James Cameron: From Titanic to Avatar
The director has finally resurfaced, with a $230m 3-D film sensation, Avatar. He promises it will mess with people’s minds
by Christopher Goodwin
At about eight o’clock one recent morning, sitting at the end of a long conference table in his offices on the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles, James Cameron laughs when I ask why it’s taken him so long to get back in the saddle.
We are meeting early because Cameron is racing to finish Avatar, his first feature film since Titanic. It is a typically gargantuan Cameron extravaganza, a ridiculously ambitious, $230m, 3-D sci-fi adventure epic, four years in the making. It will be released on thousands of screens across the world on December 18, exactly 12 years less one day after Titanic, his last movie, came out. Cameron says he knows that a lot of people in Hollywood think he was just “too chicken shit” to make another film after Titanic: “It’s a natural conclusion, but it’s incorrect.”
The last time most people will remember seeing Cameron was on the night of March 23, 1998. It’s hard to forget the director on the stage of the Shrine Auditorium in LA, exultant, pumping a golden Oscar statuette into the air and shouting: “I’m the king of the world!” As everyone knew, that was the most famous line in Titanic, exclaimed by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character as he leaned into the wind on the prow of the doomed vessel. Cameron’s incantation of the line was a giant “eff off”, in front of a television audience approaching a billion, to all the naysayers, especially those sitting right in front of him. He could afford to gloat. Titanic had just won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture and best director, matching the record set by Ben-Hur in 1960.
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