James Cameron is rumored to have submitted in a 9-hour cut of Avatar 3 to Disney KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Friday, December 16, 2022

James Cameron is rumored to have submitted in a 9-hour cut of Avatar 3 to Disney

James Cameron is rumored to have handed in a 9-hour cut of #Avatar3 to Disney. 

He wants to do the VFX for all 9 hours before cutting it down.

James Cameron is flanked by towering trees and lush, dreamlike vistas. No, the “Avatar” director isn’t dialing in from Pandora, he assures Robert Rodriguez. It’s just a screen saver, meant to enliven whatever drab editing bay he’s in, putting the final touches, this November afternoon, on “Avatar: The Way of Water,” his long-gestating sequel to the 2009 blockbuster that introduced the world to the way of the Na’vi.

The two men are old friends — having worked together on the sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel,” which Rodriguez directed and Cameron produced — and clearly have a lot of respect for one another. Cameron, for instance, makes Rodriguez swear a “blood oath” that they’ll make a sequel to “Alita.” And there are other perks to their friendship. Namely, Rodriguez and his sons are some of the first people to have seen an earlier version of “The Way of Water.” Afterward, Cameron drilled the group for their reactions, eager to incorporate their notes as he perfected his action epic. It’s part of a process that he says he learned from Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro.

“Directors are too much like lone wolves,” Cameron says. “We should be like college pals that are film geeks. Our pal Guillermo says that, in Mexico, when somebody makes a film, all the other filmmakers gather around like a baby was being born. They all get involved in the process. And I think that’s the way it should be.” 

It’s taken a long time and several blown deadlines to reach this point (“The Way of Water” was originally intended to debut in 2014), and Cameron has made it clear how much is riding on the film’s success. He has suggested that “The Way of Water” needs to earn $2 billion to break even. But in a wide-ranging conversation with Rodriguez, who knows his way around directing franchises (from “Sin City” to “Spy Kids”), Cameron doesn’t seem to be sweating. Instead, he’s looking ahead, eager to keep exploring the farthest reaches of the mystical planet of Pandora in a five-film series he likens to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”

This movie is a long time coming.

James Cameron: Yeah, no kidding.

Rodriguez: But you did it again, man. Even though there’s enough spectacle in the film to drive people to the theater, the real power of it is, once again, the emotion. You reach new dramatic heights with this film. What was important for you to focus on?

Cameron: I wrote the first film in 1995. And I wasn’t thinking about being a husband, father, family guy or any of that stuff. But sitting down in 2012, I said, “What story do I want to tell?” Of course, I’m going to go back to Pandora — I’m going to go back to Jake and Neytiri. And it’s like: What if Romeo and Juliet didn’t die? What if they married and had kids, and they had a family, and they had to think about something besides each other?

Jake and Neytiri have taken it upon themselves to try to save their world from these hostile colonizers from Earth. But at what point do you have to lay down your guns? And they’ve got boys coming up who want to be warriors; they’re 14 or 15 years old, and they’re feeling that testosterone and that sense of mission. How do you tell them, “Don’t be like me”?

When I was writing the new films, I was going through that as a father of teenagers. And my conclusion was, no matter what you go through in terms of dysfunction, the family’s your fortress. And I wanted to somehow, through my art, convey that, because I thought it was a big missing piece in action movies these days.

Not without trauma: Cameron’s production represented the biggest budget overrun on record, compelling its backer, Fox, to beg other studios to cover unanticipated costs (Paramount grumpily agreed, and was later grateful).

Along the way, Cameron’s encounters with studio chieftains set decibel levels unequalled to this day.

Avatar: The Way of Water opens domestically this week in a blaze of promotion akin to Tom Cruise’s brilliant theatrics for Top Gun: Maverick. Cameron has mobilized everything except a fleet of jets. “We have a lot to live up to,” he declared, sounding like General George Patton in 1943.

It was a million-dollar deal that changed Coppola’s mind — hence Godfather II. And Cameron’s pricey sequels already have sub-sequels; he’s already shot Avatar 3 and finished the script for Avatar 5.

Flashing his imperial smile, Cameron would argue the Avatar series represents a cultural force and a prophecy on climate change, not a Marvel-like game plan. Indeed, this week’s opening of Avatar: The Way of Water has a surreal backstory colored by Cameron’s other movie — the one titled Titanic.

Hollywood circa 2022 finds itself in a confused and defeatist mood after suffering through a dismal autumn. Precisely 25 years ago, Titanic came ashore in an astonishingly similar set of circumstances, with Hollywood also cowering from a succession of bombs.

Cameron didn’t have time to notice. Titanic was the most expensive movie of all time and became the industry’s first to gross $1 billion. As captain of the boat, he instantly proclaimed himself King of the World.

Prior to his Covid delay, Cameron even plunged into a chain of media interviews, an activity he admittedly disdains. Encountering reporters, the 61-year-old director often pretended in the past not to hear questions, nimbly responding instead to issues that he favors.

But the facts of his enterprise are news enough: He has completed four scripts encompassing appropriate technological breakthroughs for future Avatars, and Disney has set release dates a decade into the future. Post-Iger CEOs won’t have to worry about dates or much of their future film budgets.

To be sure, some Titanic loyalists seem confused: They are still arguing whether Jack should have squeezed onto that bit of debris with Rose, and still complain that Titanic really was two movies cramped into one berth.

Some wags even proposed a low-budget sequel to Titanic, which would tell the secret saga of the S.S. California. That ship was anchored near Titanic as it went down, but its wireless operator, and surrounding crew, were asleep and no one else even noticed.

Given all this, some critics loftily view Titanic as a metaphor for the climate change crisis, with the S.S. California standing as a poignant symbol. Its message: In a fast-warming world, outside help will always be missing.

Jon Landau: When I met [James Cameron] originally in 1994, he wasn't a father of a family structure. Now, he's a father in a family structure and that you now see represented in these films. But what Jim also does, he never rests on the laurels of his past. He challenges himself, and he challenges the others around him to progress things to raise the bar, and that's one of the really exciting and daunting things about working with Jim. But what happens is the people around us, they find that they can do things they never knew they can do, and it makes our movies better.

Cameron has over forty years of experience in the film industry and has directed two of the most successful films of all time, but Landau's comment about not standing on his past laurels is a key part of Cameron's character. His past success has been an important part of his ability to explore new kinds of filmmaking. Avatar: The Way of Water's massive budget was no doubt approved in part because of his proven ability to make films that are financial successes, but his focus is on the story.

Cameron is known for crafting immersive and compelling settings, particularly in Avatar, where he created multiple cultures and an entire alien world that is startlingly similar to our own. Cameron tells stories set in exciting and imaginative worlds like Alien, Terminator, and Avatar, but he explores universal stories and complex characters that people relate to. While Avatar: The Way of Water has been praised as a visual marvel, the movie is, at its core, about family. The Sully family is at the heart of the Avatar franchise, beginning with Neytiri and Jake in Avatar and their children in Avatar: The Way of Water.

Cameron broke box office records with Avatar, an impressive feat, especially with an original story. Now, he'll need to do this once again with the long-awaited sequel. Cameron's ability to raise those around him to the next level as creators will be instrumental in setting Avatar: The Way of Water apart from the many other large-scale blockbuster movies. Perhaps most intriguing is how the story has evolved to mirror his own evolution, not just as a filmmaker but as a person.

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