James Cameron Talks 9 Minutes of AVATAR Re-Release Footage, 3D Conversions, and AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS

     August 7, 2010

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James Cameron has plenty to talk about these days.  Avatar — you know, the highest-grossing movie of all time — is set for a re-release on August 27th.  Titanic — you know, the second highest-grossing movie of all time — will get a 3D theatrical re-release in April 2012.  There’s always that impending Avatar sequel (or two) that could use a monthly progress update.  Plus, it was recently revealed that Cameron would co-produce an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness with fellow auteur Guillermo del Toro.

The director has been working the phone recently to keep us informed — hit the jump to hear what he had to say.

Cameron recently spoke with Market Saw and MTV.  Here are the highlights:

at_the_mountains_of_madness_book_coverOn At the Mountains of Madness

The teaming of Cameron and del Toro may be even more serendipitous than we first realized.  Cameron allegedly brought up Madness a couple weeks ago, asking if del Toro was still interested in the project.  When it was clear the Mexican filmmaker was chomping at the bit to get it made, Cameron said “Let’s do it.”  The pair took it to Universal, and now the project is on the fast track, set to shoot in native 3D in summer 2011.

On 3D conversions…

As someone who took the utmost care in projecting a 3D Sam Worthington in Avatar, Cameron had a few more disparaging remarks for the method that Clash of the Titans employed.  He quipped, “[Clash of the Titans] showed a fundamental lack of knowledge about stereo space, in addition to the shoddy work that comes from rushing.”  He added that he was a fan of the film in 2D, both as a director and a fan of Worthington.

Cameron expects the process of converting Titanic to 3D to take eight months to a year after extensive testing.  The director will continue his mission to further 3D technology.  He hopes to eventually invalidate the following arguments against shooting in 3D:

  • ‘I can’t shoot 3D.’
  • ‘It’s too difficult.’
  • ‘There are too many problems.’
  • ‘It costs too much.’
  • ‘It adds 6 months to post-production.’

Cameron believes that, two years from now, those points will be moot.  “They won’t be able to say any of that stuff.  That stuff is all garbage.”

In a fun anecdote, Cameron recalled the advice he gave to Steven Spielberg with regard to converting his own classic filmography to 3D: “Make sure you are there for [the conversions] — then it can be great.”

On the Avatar sequels and novel...

The overall story arc for the next two films in the Avatar universe are planned out, but Cameron noted, “We don’t start the movie until we get the deals worked out.”  He elaborated, “I’m making notes. I’m not sitting idle.  But really, what I’m working on primarily is the novel.”

Most films shop the novelization out to someone who can get the job done quickly and cheaply, but Cameron wanted to ensure a quality product:

“I didn’t want to do a cheesy novelization, where some hack comes in and kind of makes shit up.  I wanted to do something that was a legitimate novel that was inside the characters’ heads and didn’t have the wrong culture stuff, the wrong language stuff, all that.”

Once the novel is out there, and the deals are in place, Cameron is strongly considering shooting the sequels back-to-back.

“That is something that makes a lot of sense, given the nature of these productions, because we can bank all the [motion] capture and then go back and do cameras over a period of time… The way these back-to-back productions fall apart is that you’re trying to do two live-action films back to back, and you’re working on it for a year and a half, shooting.  Everyone is dead.  It’s not humanly possible.  This type of film, it absolutely would work.”

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On the Avatar re-release…

Initial reports suggested the re-release would have eight minutes of new footage, but it turns out the actual total is closer to nine.  Cameron promises that they chose the best available scenes from the array available to them.  Per Market Saw, the new footage will feature:

  • scenes set in the rainforest, some at night
  • a hunting sequence
  • plenty of flying
  • an emotional scene near the end
  • a Na’vi counterattack after the bulldozer attack
  • more of Grace at the school
  • the Stingbat and Stumbeat creatures
  • more of the glad love scene

Market Saw has posted the full audio of their call in their writeup.  Here’s an excerpt from MTV’s conversation with Cameron.

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