Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If Anyone Can..

James Cameron has a new project coming up that fuses live action, CGI and 3-D. (ht: Jonah Goldberg) Withjust about anyone else I'd say this was a sure loser but Cameron can a) tell a story and 2) develop a technology to incorproate into his movie so that he can tell his story. For example, in The Abyss, Cameron developed the full face dive helmets with fitted microphones to facilitate the story telling. In Titanic, Mike Cameron and Panavision developed a deep-sea camera capable of withstanding the 400 atmospheres of pressure at that depth.

From the article:
Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said Monday that Cameron will start virtual photography on the sci-fi epic in April, with live-action photography commencing in August, for a summer 2009 release. It will be filmed in a new digital 3-D format for release in 3-D.

The director already has spent years in R&D on the multiple processes needed to create a $190 million hybrid of live action and animation, which he vowed will never pass the $200 million mark. "I've been the busiest unemployed director in Hollywood," he said. "We're going to blow you to the back wall of the theater in a way you haven't seen for a long time. My goal is to rekindle those amazing mystical moments my generation felt when we first saw '2001: A Space Odyssey,' or the next generation's 'Star Wars.' It took me 10 years to find something hard enough to be interesting."

Said Rothman: "Jim has taken the time to get it right, and we're taking the time to do it right. It's worth the wait."

"Avatar," with a screenplay by Cameron, will mark the director's return to the sci-fi action-adventure genre. He first wrote an 80-page treatment 11 years ago. The film centers on a wounded ex-Marine who is unwillingly sent to settle and exploit the faraway planet Pandora. He gets caught up in a battle for survival by the planet's inhabitants, called Na'vis, and falls in love with one of them. "Not only is this groundbreaking technologically, but it's an intimate story set against an epic canvas," Rothman said. "That's what Jim does. You can't compare it to anything out there. Its biggest upside, besides its revolutionary technology, is its newness. It's not a sequel to anything."

Cameron's strength is the intimate story in the midst of larger events. Even Cameron's most brainless excursions in to the action genre, and here I am thinking The Terminator franchise, revolve around the key relationships in John Connor's lives: father, mother, lover, friend. So my concern is not can James Cameron tell a good story (he can), or can James Cameron develop the technology he needs to tell a story (he can), but can James Cameron's latest obsession make enough money that the studios stick with it. I think that they are betting on another Titanic. I hope it does well.

1 comment:

WhidbeyIslander said...


In the article to which you link, Cameron acknowledges the Titanic problem:

Neither Cameron nor Fox want to repeat the budget overruns that plagued the $200 million "Titanic," the director said...

"We are shooting only 31 days of live action, all onstage. It's controllable. No weather conditions. No water on this one," he said.

The delay seems to have been caused by the wait for the technology to catch up with his ideas, so that he can film the movie in the studio:

For "Avatar," Cameron will use performance-capture techniques...as well as a real-time virtual camera system, which will blend the actors' performances and CG performances with real sets, miniatures and CG environments. With the virtual camera, the director will be able to look through an eyepiece and see his characters in their virtual world.
A director's dream tool...

Of course, when the budget for Titanic blew past the $200 million mark, everybody in Hollywood got busy writing Cameron's obituary, using words like "hubris" and "overreach." When the gross receipts for Titanic pass $1 billion, everybody shut up.