It’s almost a year since Avatar smashed box-office records and James Cameron reinforced his position as king of the world. Since the film’s success, 3-D has almost become the standard for blockbuster movies, just as Cameron had hoped it would. However, the battle for 3-D is not yet truly won as many, including yours truly, are frustrated by the higher ticket prices and dubious as to whether 3-D actually improves the already perfect art form of Cinema. In a recent interview, James Cameron discussed the state of 3-D since Avatar, his plans to convert Titanic into 3-D and what his next project as a director will be.
When Cameron was asked if the success of Avatar had set off an "arms race' amongst Hollywood studios to release as many 3-D movies as possible, his response was-
I think it accelerated a move toward 3-D that was already in progress. There were a number of 3-D films that were being very successful over a period of three years or so, but “Avatar” was the moment that the wave crested, if you will. After that it was undeniable that 3-D was going to be lucrative and it was here to stay, and it wasn’t a gimmick and all those things. And I think there was a rush, a gold rush, and some mistakes were made and some bad 3-D reached the marketplace. And then there was a little pushback from the audience, that we don’t want to pay extra for something that’s not a great experience. And I think that the studios have been somewhat chastened by that, and they’re now attempting to do 3-D at a higher quality.
Cameron goes on to pinpoint 'Clash of the Titans' and the upcoming Harry Potter film as examples of where studios have gone wrong with 3-D-
We’re seeing now that the studios are swinging away from the hasty conversions. Of course, Warner Brothers just got smacked by not being able to get “Harry Potter” done in time. I’d been on record for years that you can’t do conversion as part of a post-production process on a big movie, because no one is willing to insert the two or three or four months necessary to doing it well. They’ve got the cost of the interest clock running on a $150 million negative. That’s $5, $10 million right there, the interest costs of delaying a release. And of course, they don’t even factor it in when they push the button and green-light a movie. It’s already based on a release date they think they can make, based on everything they know. You can’t suddenly open up that post schedule by four months, to do 3-D right. So finally somebody got burned, which is Warners, and they’d already partially got burned on “Clash of the Titans.” So now the word is out there that the conversion companies have been low-balling their bids to get a foothold in the market, because they’re all start-ups
Before he directs anything esle, Cameron is focussing on a 3-D conversion of Titanic which he plans to release in 2012 to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the ship's infamous first and final voyage.
We’re in the early stages of that process. We’ve been moving very slowly to make sure that we do it right, and we’ve basically gone to every single vendor who does 3-D conversion, that’s a credible vendor, and there were seven that we have received tests from. We’ve analyzed the tests, in a couple of cases we sent them back and told them to remake parts of it, because it was unacceptable, and now we’re baking off the different vendors against each other and we’re going to choose the top two or three vendors and we’re going to split the show up between them. That’s our game plan. So we maximize the quality. Everybody’s busy now because there’s a lot of conversion work
The big question is what will his next directorial project be. Contrary to what you may think, an Avatar sequel isn’t even a certainty yet .
I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable because we still haven’t worked out our deal with 20th Century Fox. So we’re still in an ongoing negotiation on that. Because it’s a big piece of business, and I’m trying to map it out as a game plan that stretches forward 10 years. And they don’t like to think that long term. We’ll get it worked out, probably. I would assign a high probability to that. Whether that’s my next film or not remains to be seen.
One possibility, if he does not make Avatar 2 next, is that he will direct the Cleopatra film which Sony are developing.
There’s a Cleopatra project in work, meaning that it’s been in development at Sony. And it’s a subject that’s always fascinated me. So yeah, I’ve been talking to them about it but no decisions have been made. But it sounds hot, doesn’t it? I mean, Angelina Jolie and Cleopatra? To me, that’s like a slam dunk. Whether I wind up doing it or not, I think it’s going to be a great project.
I don’t mean to discourage you, but someone probably once said the same thing about Elizabeth Taylor and Cleopatra.
[laughs] Yeah, but you know, there were a lot of people betting against us on “Titanic” as well. That kind of stuff isn’t particularly daunting to me. The idea of 10-foot-tall blue people that were 100 percent CG, it was Smurf Planet, plenty of reasons why “Avatar” wasn’t going to work either.
What would you like to see Cameron make next?