James Cameron Reveals He Used His ‘Titanic’ Clout to Squash ‘Avatar’ Studio Notes

After record-breaking box office hauls for Titanic and Avatar, James Cameron has been anointed king of the blockbuster world, a title he doesn’t mind touting in a pinch. During a recent interview with The New York Times, the filmmaker said he “clashed” with studio executives at 20th Century Fox over Avatar’s run time and the amount of “flying around on the ikran.” Cameron’s response was to play the Titanic card, invoking his 1997 film’s $1.8 billion box office haul.

“And that’s a place where I just drew a line in the sand and said, ‘You know what? I made Titanic,’” he told the Times. “‘This building that we’re meeting in right now, this new half-billion-dollar complex on your lot? Titanic paid for that, so I get to do this.’ And afterward, they thanked me.” Cameron added, “I feel that my job is to protect their investment, often against their own judgment. But as long as I protect their investment, all is forgiven.”

Avatar would go on to gross more than $2.8 billion worldwide after its December 2009 debut, a release month shared by both Titanic and the upcoming Avatar: The Way of Water, which hits theaters on December 16, 2022. Although it’s been nearly 13 years since the original Pandora spectacle was released, Cameron feels confident that audiences will flock to theaters precisely because of the gap. “I think I could have made a sequel two years later and have it bomb because people didn’t relate to the characters or the direction of the film,” he said, citing his success with Aliens and Terminator 2—a pair of sequels released seven years after their respective original films. He continued: “I was a little concerned that I had stretched the tether too far, in our fast-paced, modern world, with Avatar 2 coming in 12 years later. Right until we dropped the teaser trailer, and we got 148 million views in 24 hours.”

Avatar: The Way of Water will reunite Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), alongside their children, as well as returning cast members Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver. New arrivals will include Kate Winslet, Michelle Yeoh, and Vin Diesel. Filming on Avatar 3, due in 2024, has also reportedly been completed. As Cameron told the Times: “It’s such an intense process when you’re editing a film and you have to fight for every frame that stays in.”

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