The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, a cyborg assassin sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son will one day save mankind from extinction by a hostile artificial intelligence called Skynet in a post-apocalyptic future. Michael Biehn plays Kyle Reese, a soldier sent back in time to protect Sarah.
Filming, which took place mostly at night on location in Los Angeles, was delayed because of Schwarzenegger’s commitments to Conan the Destroyer (1984), during which Cameron found time to work on the scripts for Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Aliens (1986). The film’s special effects were created by a team of artists led by Stan Winston and Gene Warren Jr.
Defying low pre-release expectations, The Terminator topped the United States box office for two weeks, eventually grossing $78.3 million against a modest $6.4 million budget. It is credited with launching Cameron’s film career and solidifying Schwarzenegger’s status as a leading man. The film’s success led to a franchise consisting of several sequels, a television series, comic books, novels and video games. In 2008, The Terminator was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.