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Jim Cameron’s Guide to Being Silent

By Bert Ehrmann
2006-07-24
It’s been nearly a decade since writer/director James (Jim) Cameron proclaimed himself the “king of the world” at the Academy Awards after receiving the Best Picture Oscar for his film Titanic. Grossing nearly a BILLION dollars in ticket and VHS/DVD sales and winning a total of 11 Academy Awards, Titanic is still a benchmark of film success.

A billion dollars brings clout. Cameron could have written his own ticket and directed anything his heart desired – anything was possible.

But nothing happened. Since those billion dollars were made, we haven’t heard much from Cameron. In fact, over the last nine years Cameron has neither written nor directed any feature films since the success he found with Titanic. It’s a bit odd that the man who wrote and directed The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and True Lies (1994) over the course of a decade has been silent the last.

Since Titanic, Cameron has been attached to several different movies. For a while he was set to direct an IMAX feature film based around a human lead expedition of the planet Mars. But when three other Mars themed films all failed at the box office this project disappeared from Cameron’s schedule. Then, Cameron was set to write and direct an adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris story, but after years of “development hell” director Steven Soderberg would step in and take over as director with Cameron shifting roles to act as producer.

To be sure, it’s not like Cameron has spent the last decade “Howard Hughes-ing” it, holed up in some Las Vegas hotel letting his toenails grow long. He’s been produced films like Solaris and television series like Dark Angel (2000). He’s also directed several documentaries exploring the seas and various shipwrecks.

That’s not including the fictional movie Cameron has been involved with over on HBO. There, real life Jim Cameron plays himself on the fictional series Entourage working on a movie based on the comic book Aquaman.

But this real-life box office silence might be coming to a close. Over the last few weeks Cameron has announced several film projects he has in the works.

According to an interview Cameron gave MTV a few weeks back, his next film is going to be a movie entitled Avatar, a project that he has been attached to over the last decade.

In an early script of Avatar, a disabled vet living in a futuristic America is drafted to live on another planet where he would control a robot that looks like aliens native to that planet, his “Avatar.” But on this planet the pilot becomes personally involved with this alien species, and would rather live with them as this “Avatar” than in his own disabled human body.

I’ve heard that the long development time on Avatar is mostly due to the 3D technology required to realize the alien species on film. In fact, Cameron told the Hollywood Reporter that his company has spent the last year developing the software and equipment needed to realize his 3D vision.

If all goes well Avatar SHOULD be in theaters sometime in 2008.

Also in the works from Cameron is another 3D CGI extravaganza entitled Battle Angel. Battle Angel was originally a Japanese comic book that followed an amnesiac female cyborg in an apocalyptic future. Reportedly, Cameron plans on turning Battle Angel into a trilogy.

Current plans have Battle Angel only opening in theaters that sport a digital 3D projection system, and even then not until in 2009.

If Avatar is released in 2008 it will mark an eleven-year gap between two of Cameron’s movies – which is akin to Stanley Kubrick who had a twelve-year gap between Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

Then again, just because Cameron’s two movies are SCHEDULED to come out over the next few years’ means very little. Remember what happened to his Mars movie and Solaris? The same thing could happen to Avatar and Battle Angel – each of these films has already been pushed back from their original release dates several times already.