The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, written by Cameron and the film's producer Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton. It is the first installment in the Terminator franchise. It was filmed in Los Angeles, produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures. Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a cyborg assassin sent back in time from the year 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, played by Hamilton, whose son will one day become a savior against machines in a post-apocalyptic future. Biehn plays Kyle Reese, a soldier from the future sent back in time to protect her.
Though not expected to be a critical or commercial success, The Terminator topped the American box office for two weeks and helped launch the film career of Cameron and consolidate that of Schwarzenegger. The film received critical acclaim, with many praising its pacing and action scenes, and Schwarzenegger's role. Its success led to a franchise, consisting of films, a television series, comic books, and novels. The first sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, was released in 1991.
In 2008, The Terminator was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the American National Film Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".