New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, National Public Radio, and Variety.
Canadian James Cameron has always been split between science, technology and film making. He has managed to do all three, in part due to his success as a film maker. "Avatar" is his first feature film since "Titanic", which came out a dozen years ago in 1997, and went on to win 11 Oscars. "Avatar" cost over $400 million dollars, involves newly invented at the time and constantly evolving 3D and Motion Capture technology. His next step for the technology is to advance into virtual reality story telling. But for now it's "Avatar" with its 3D and computer magic.
James Cameron and Avatar star, Sam WorthingtonCameron was a hyper fan who drove a truck for a living when "Star Wars" came out. He felt he could do it better. He did not do the top college route, but he has always been a reader and a hands on mechanic. His way of thinking, doing business and living remains blue collar, which makes him a very successful outsider in Hollywood. He is creative, intelligent, demanding, tyrannical, and highly critical. At the same time he can be likable, amiable and friendly. He is a tinkerer and a dreamer, according to his biographer. He developed the effects for "The Abyss" and "Terminator II", created on camera stunts and actors for "Titanic" and is responsible for more video game imagery than anyone is allowed to know. In the original "Terminator" he found a formula that works: write romances than boys and men will want to see. Once he had money he jumped in with both feed into documentaries, including the search for and excavation of the original Titanic. He made nature documentaries that jumped out at people, and are considered some of the most dynamic on the museum circuit.
In the ten years since "Titanic" he did scrap a Mars movie and a futuristic battle movie.
"Avatar" uses 3D and other cutting edge technology in ways that tell the story, not just impress or add novelty. Cameron offered to give back points on the film to get more money for "Titanic" from FOX, but they refused saying that the film "would never make money." With "Avatar" they are counting on it making money despite the huge investment costs.
The industry is gambling on "Avatar" to get theaters and the industry to invest more in 3D projection and improved sound presentation technologies. Hollywood and its marketing wing are behind "Avatar" because it may be a way to counter the Comcast, direct to home 1080i or monitor quality rapid distribution.
Cameron can get executives to delay projects, increase money, promise promotion, and much more, despite his having trouble functioning it their Hollywood / Wall Street circles.
KCRW's the Business titled this week's episode: "The King of the World", with the following copy "James Cameron's Avatar isn't just a hugely expensive sci-fi adventure – it's a titanic bid to transform movies. We get inside the mind of one of Hollywood's biggest players with Rebecca Keegan, author of the new book The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron."