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

     June 21, 2011

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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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