Read the whole story here: http://www.freep.com/article/20091213/E ... high-hopes" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;There's a lot riding on 'Avatar,' James Cameron's new 3D epic
by Scott Bowles
While shooting a scene of his outer space opus "Avatar," director James Cameron needed something to make his actors react as if they were getting pummeled by debris.
Hurling pillows at them wasn't working. Same with wadded paper, pencils, food cartons: Nothing gave his actors that urgent, terrified look he wanted.
Cameron disappeared into a prop room and returned with a jousting pole, wrapped in padding. Then he whipped the daylights out of his stars as cameras rolled.
"If you'd walked on set, you would have thought he had gone nuts on us," says actress Zoe Saldana. "But he was just a happy kid, playing with one of his toys."
Cameron brings all his toys to bear in "Avatar," his first feature film since "Titanic" in 1997. That became the highest-grossing film ever, taking in $1.8 billion worldwide and winning 11 Oscars, including best picture.
When that was your last act, the filmmaker knows, your encore had better be impressive. And "Avatar," which opens Friday, comes freighted with all the hope and hand-wringing of a James Cameron film.
It's expensive (by some estimates, the priciest film ever made at $500 million, including marketing), a technological marvel (he designed every plant, animal, weapon and spaceship in the 3D movie) and long (2 1/2 hours).
The film is seen as the best test yet for the public's appetite for 3D.
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