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James Cameron talks Avatar sequels, Terminator, Aliens, and a whole lot more

04.14.2014

This past weekend, director James Cameron did a Reddit AMA and covered the gamut in terms of Q&A, ranging from the current state of the AVATAR sequels, his thoughts on the latest TERMINATOR films (and reboot), the ALIEN films (post ALIENS), what happened to TRUE LIES 2, the best movie he's seen in theaters recently, his thoughts on 3D being used for all movies, and he would win in a fight between a T-800, and Alien Queen, and a Na'vi. It was kind of an exhausting session and there is a mountain of interesting bits to sift through if interested, but I cherry-picked some of the more interesting movie-related answers from the innovative filmmaker, which are often fascinating, especially when hearing his thoughts on the films that carried on in franchises he started, but wasn't involved in directly.

On why he didn't do ALIEN 3 and how ALIEN 5 almost happened with Ridley Scott:

We never talked about Alien 3. I don't remember the timing exactly, but I might have been making the Abyss at that time, also for Fox. What came up was the idea of doing Alien 5, and at one point I pitched that I would write it and produce it, and Ridley would direct it, and we had lunch talking about this, and we were in violent agreement, then nothing happened. What happened was Fox went ahead with Aliens Vs Predator, and I said "I really don't recommend that, you'll ruin the franchise, it's like Universal doing Dracula versus the Werewolf," and then I lost interest in doing an Alien film. But Prometheus is seen as the A-level alien, as opposed to rather, the derivative. I don't think I have anything to offer on the Prometheus sequels, that's Ridley's, I think I'll stick to the Avatar universe.

On what he thought about Ridley Scott's PROMETHEUS:

Interesting. I thought it was an interesting film. I thought it was thought provoking and beautifully, visually mounted, but at the end of the day it didn't add up logically. But I enjoyed it, and I'm glad it was made. I liked it better than the previous two Alien sequels.

On his guilty pleasure movie:

Oh, probably Resident Evil, the first one.

On his thoughts about TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, TERMINATOR: SALVATION and the upcoming reboot, TERMINATOR: GENESIS:

Well, I have to be objective, or as objective as possible about that. I'm not big fans of the films, I think that the big ideas of the first movies - I didn't make the second film until I had an idea as big as the first film, and it had to do with the moral complexity of the story, and asking the audience by the end of the film to cry for a Terminator. I don't think that the 3rd or 4th film lived up to that potential. Sarah Connor Chronicles I never really watched much of it, so I never gave it a chance I get to get hooked, like you have to with a TV series. I'm hopeful that the new films, which are being made right now as a reboot, but still involving Arnold, will be good. From what I've seen from afar, it looks like they will be quite good.

On what happened to the TRUE LIES sequel:

We abandoned True Lies 2 after 9/11, because we didn't think a comedy about fundamentalist terrorists was so funny anymore. And then we never picked it up again.

On the best movie he's seen of late:

This year, 2014, I haven't seen that much that inspired me yet. My favorite film of last year, hands down, was Gravity, and I was hoping it would win best picture, but certainly happy that my friend Alfonso Cuaron won best director. I did think that this new Captain America was an interesting film for its genre, in that it tackled this idea of digital surveillance and the kind of dark side of our hyperconnected society.

On what happened to BATTLE ANGEL ALITA and why he chose to continue with the AVATAR franchise instead:

My intention when I made Avatar was to do Battle Angel next. However, the positive feedback for Avatar and the support of the message of Avatar, encouraged me to do more of those films.

For me, the success was a factor because I was encouraged by the fact that an environmental film, or a film about nature, could be successful. It's certainly not just about money. I'm considering success to mean the measure of the ability of the film to communicate. Every director wants their film to communicate. The biggest factor, however, is the drive to continue developing the world-- more characters, more creatures with unfettered creativity.

On the use of 48 fps and the use of 3D:

48 fps to me is not a format, it's a tool, like music it's good to use sparingly and in the right spot. I believe all movies should be made in 3D, forever, but the projection needs to be better, and brighter. I want people to see in the movie theaters what I am seeing in my perfectly calibrated screening room, and people aren't seeing that. Larger formats. I'd love to see screens get bigger. In terms of storytelling, I'd like to see Hollywood embrace the caliber of writing in feature films that we're currently seeing in the series on television - more emphasis on character, and less on explosions and pyrotechnics. And I'm talking the big tentpole movies, I think they're obnoxiously loud and fast.

On the current status of the AVATAR sequels:

The second, third and fourth films all go into production simultaneously. They're essentially all in preproduction now, because we are designing creatures, settings, and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks.

Finally, on who would win in a fight between a T-800, Alien Queen, or Na'vi:

Is the T-800 armed or not armed? An Armed T-800 with a plasma rifle will clean house, all it has to do is shoot the Alien Queen, and have it bleed on the Na'vi. I would think that all three of them unarmed. Queen beats Na'vi. Queen beats T-800, because the T-800 would tear the arm off a queen, which would dissolve the mantel and shut down the cyborg. Now a Na'vi riding a leonopteryx, or a Na'vi riding a thanataur, that would be a different story.

Some very interesting bits from Mr. Cameron. He goes on to discuss other films, including TITANIC, as well as his passion for diving, and talks at length on his beliefs on climate change, and other more personal info, so if you're up for digging through the whole things, by all means have a look. I've grown up with Cameron's films and count many of them among my favorites, so it's always cool to hear what the man has to say, even if I don't agree. Although I'd rather see him making something other than more AVATAR films, I'll always champion him as one of the best filmmakers in town.

AVATAR 2 is aiming towards a December 2016 release with AVATAR 3 close behind for December 2017 and finally AVATAR 4 sliding in sometime in 2018.

Extra Tidbit: What would YOU like to see Cameron work on post-Avatar?
Source: Reddit

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