James Cameron Talks About the AVATAR Series Arc and the Frustration of Converting TITANIC to 3D

     June 21, 2011


James Cameron and wife Suzy Amis were recently honored for their philanthropy at the Covenant House Gala in Los Angeles.  It has something to do with homeless youths, but more importantly, the event provided an opportunity to put a microphone to Cameron and ask him about the Avatar sequels and the 3D conversion in the works for Titanic.  Let’s start with Avatar:

“We’re shooting two films back-to-back, so I’m writing two scripts, not one, which will complete a free-film story arc — not really a trilogy, but just an overall character arc so I’m pretty excited about that.”

I first read this as a declaration, “Oh, we have no intention of stopping at Avatar 3.”  An alternate interpretation: Cameron’s current plans for the property end with Avatar 3, but the three movies are not necessarily linked by an arced plot structure centered on the characters we already know.  Instead, each movie is a chapter in Stories from Pandora.  Conveniently, the two interpretations are not mutually exclusive.  Surely more will be revealed in the years leading up to the release of Avatar 2 (December 2014) and Avatar 3 (December 2015).  In the meantime, Cameron has more to say after the jump.

Plot details were not discussed, obviously.  But Cameron did describe the experience of writing the Avatar sequels to Fox News:

“There’s always an expectation. I had to deal with that after The Terminator back in 1984. All of a sudden I had a big hit movie and it was, ‘What are you doing next?’ But my job is take the audience on a journey and entertain them. The second I am sitting down writing, I just go to Pandora. I don’t think about that stuff, about standing on a red carpet. It has its own life, really. The characters have their own lives.”

That is the greatest achievement of Avatar, how it sucks you into that world.  Even the creator is subject to the power.

As this is a conversation with Cameron, 3D came up:

“It is actually a little frustrating because it would have been so easy to shoot Titanic in 3D, if we’d had cameras back then and if there had been theaters. It’s actually more work (to convert to 3D in post-production) and I don’t really enjoy the process, but I enjoy the result… We have spent several years and millions of dollars trying to create a time machine so that I could go back and shoot it in 3D and it didn’t work out. So we just have to convert it.”

On April 6, 2012, Titanic 3D will be the canary sent into the coal mine to see if this 3D conversions of classic films can work in terms of both quality and box office.  If anyone can make it work, it’s Cameron.  I like the idea of seeing Titanic and similar fare in theaters again, so I’m not rooting for the re-release to fail.  But I am tired of having opinions about 3D, and failure would lessen the opinions required of someone in my position.



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  • Chris Hunter

    yea but will it be 3d?

    • jkl08

      I’m pretty sure that Titanic 3D will be in 3D lol

    • http://twitter.com/#!/colliderbrendan Brendan Bettinger

      I think Chris was referring to Cameron’s time machine. If so, no. Time travel will be in 4D.

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  • aaronsullivan

    Really hope he leans towards a more nuanced and layered story this time with more fleshed out characters and a moving character arc at the center. I think it may have served the original well to keep it all pretty simple and familiar so audiences could focus on the environment and experience, but now I hope he gives the audience a denser film.

  • Lance

    “It has something to do with homeless youths, but more importantly…”

    C’mon. Dissing homeless kids for an attempt at humor?

    Here’s a tip: kick up, not down when you’re making fun of somebody. Like Michael Bay. Kick that guy in the nuts all day long, it’ll be funny. Homeless people? Not so much.

    • johnnyb78

      Completely agree! That was just in bad taste. Have a little professionalism please.

  • JLC

    I’m encouraged by this. In Avatar, I liked everything dealing with Jake among the Na’vi on Pandora, and disliked just about everything having to do with the military and the corporation. Hopefully the new movies will jettison the military stuff and just be straight fantasy adventures.

  • Tarek

    Jim Cameron in a genius. High expectations on Avatar 2 and 3.
    He will certainly explore the human dimension in the following sequels. He is a terrific storyteller.

  • Ytsejamer1

    “It is actually a little frustrating because it would have been so easy to shoot Titanic in 3D…”

    Not sure if its more frustrating for Cameron to keep pushing the 3D nonsense each and every time he wants to release, re-release, re-re-release, his films…UGGG…enough with it.

    I think the a few recent 3D films looked like a jumbled mess in 3D…in my opinion, it’s a weak gimmick in regards to storytelling in movies. I am with Nolan in this regard…IMAX is where its at.

    /rant off

    • Steeeve

      Wait, when has Cameron been re-releasing his movies in theaters prior to this? I personally would love to see some of these big movies back in theaters (3D conversion or not) and have been blown away when I’ve had a chance to see event movies on the big screen that I’d only previously seen on TVs. (Blade Runner springs to mind, when they did the Final Cut re-release.) It seems like they always need a gimmick to put things back into theaters (a new cut, special edition, 3D conversion) but I’d be up for just a plain one-day Star Wars re-release every year and I’d go each time to see it on the big screen. The Lion King, Aliens, Shawshank Redemption, Moulin Rouge, It’s a Wonderful Life, Jaws, etc would all be great. Instead I keep having to spend theater money on stuff that looks decent in previews and turns out disappointing 2/3 the time.

  • Amardeep Lakra

    He knows how to use 3D technology for movies, so great expectation for Avatar2 and 3.

  • Draven

    Avatar 2 and 3, great!

    Titanic in 3D? not so much! goof film for a chick flick, but i dont wanna see an old boat sink in 3D, seen it on tv too many times. Its not star wars!. Maybe this long 3d process will be the one to finali sink this gimmick? (pun intended)

    Move on! Or atleast do Aliens in 3D instead.

  • gimpsuit

    Cameron has done two sequels, both were awesome, and IMO better than the originals.
    I think Cameron is smart enough to know the only real problem people had with Avatar was that the story was familiar. I think he did that on purpose as he knew it was going to be a challange to have people accept the visuals (Avatar could very easily have been rejected by audiences if the visual element sucked).
    But now with the look and world established I think he’ll open the scope up in the story telling area into areas you probably wouldn’t want to go in a first movie.

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