Terminator: Dark Fate flops on opening weekend, 'may lose US$100 million'

The Terminator might not be back any time soon.

Dark Fate, the most recent instalment in the sci-fi/action series, has fallen flat at the box office and stands to be a big money loser for Paramount, Skydance and Disney, the studios backing the big-budget movie.

The sixth Terminator entry debuted with a dismal US$29 million in North America and US$102 million around the rest of the world - disappointing figures for a movie that cost US$185 million to produce, plus US$80 million to US$100 million in global marketing and distribution fees.

Unless the movie sees exceptionally strong ticket sales in the coming weeks, sources at rival studios estimate the movie could lose US$100 million.

Paramount, Skydance and Disney (through 20th Century Fox) co-financed the movie, each putting up 30 percent of the budget, with China's Tencent contributing the remaining cash.

China was expected to be a key market for the release, but launched with an underwhelming US$28 million.

After a weak start, sources estimate it could struggle to reach US$50 million in that territory.

The most recent Terminator films - 2009's Terminator Salvation and 2015's Terminator Genisys - were both panned by critics and failed to recoup their pricey budgets.

However, Terminator: Dark Fate was hailed as a return to form for the 35-year-old franchise, even landing a B+ Cinemascore from audiences and a 70 percent average on Rotten Tomatoes.

But not even the presence of original stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, along with series creator James Cameron onboard as a producer could ignite enough interest among moviegoers.

Terminator: Dark Fate is the second high-profile misfire for Paramount and Skydance this autumn following Gemini Man.

That action/thriller starring Will Smith and directed by Ang Lee cost US$135 million and has generated US$153 million worldwide since debuting in October.