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James Cameron talks upcoming Terminator films, Spider-Man and Avatar sequels

Jun. 2, 2014by:

This past Saturday at the Hero Complex Film Festival, James Cameron stopped by to answer questions after screenings of the first two Terminator films. He delivered some anectodes that are pretty well known at this point; meeting with Arnold to play the part of Kyle Reese, and deciding after lunch that he would be the Terminator, or his how his low-budget Roger Corman roots helped to pave the way for the effects practices used in the original Terminator. He also spoke about TERMINATOR: GENESIS, and how he may have had a suggestive influence on the sequels.

Here's what he had to say:

I pay attention to (the upcoming Terminator sequels) but Im not terribly concerned about it one-way or the other. Ive let it go. There was a point in time where I debated going after the rights. Carolco Pictures was failing and in bankruptcy and the rights were in play. I talked briefly to 20th Century Fox about it. At a certain point, I think I was finishing Titanic at the time and I just felt as a filmmaker maybe Ive gone beyond it. I really wasnt that interested. I felt like Id told the story I wanted to tell. I suppose I could have pursued it more aggressively and gone to the mat for it but I felt like I was laboring in someone elses house to an extent because I had sold the rights very early on. Basically I went from being a truck driver to being a filmmaker and part of my dues was that I sold the rights to The Terminator in order to keep myself attached as a director. And the outcome was fine. The rest of my career really hinged on that. But I no longer had control of it. I thought to myself why dont I just create my own new thing that Ill have control over the IP.

So I let it go and in the act of letting it go, I now have to live with the consequences of that which is I cant get too emotionally involved. Now having said that when Megan Ellison bought the rights, she asked me if I wanted to be involved. I said, "Look I dont mind standing behind the curtain and whispering some court advisory in the 13th century type thing". My goal in that was not to insinuate myself artistically but to try to make sure they stayed true to the Terminator character and the idea of Arnold hes a friend of mine and weve been through all the wars together I wanted them to see the possibilities I saw for what they could do with his character. And then David Ellison took the project over from Megan and he and I met a couple times. Arnold is very much front and center in the new Terminator films. So I might have had some tiny effect on it but obviously they had to make the right financial and creative decisions themselves so Im not trying to take credit for the film that theyre making but that was my goal for being loosely attached to the film.

I always felt it'd be ridiculous not to consult the man who created the Terminator franchise as far as what he sees for the future of that world. Even if they don't end up using whatever ideas he had in mind, at least they listened to what he had to say. I suppose I can also understand him not fighting for the rights. We would have all loved a third Terminator film directed by Cameron, but if his heart wasn't in it, and he had the rights, we wouldn't have gotten any more Terminator films at all. Now, I'm sure most are okay with RISE OF THE MACHINES and SALVATION not existing, but if TERMINATOR: GENESIS and its sequels actually turn out to be good, then Cameron's "sacrifice" was worth it, ya know?

Cameron's infamously bad Spider-Man script has been talked about for a while now, although I'll always feel he may have delivered something interesting with that, or any comic book property for that matter, although James Cameron super-hero flick doesn't seem likely at this point, given what he has to say.

In regards to directing a Spider-Man film:

Spider-Man. Spider-Man was kind of going nowhere. Canon a very low budget film company back in the 80s had had it briefly. Nobody had really done anything with it. Marvel characters in general werent being developed very well at that time. I got Carolco Pictures to buy Spider-Man. I was going to launch that as a series of films. I wrote quite an extensive treatment I think eighty or ninety pages long And then again when Carolco collapsed, those rights were in play and I didnt pursue it because I was on to Titanic and I was doing other things. When I was a kid: to me there were all the superheroes and then there was Spider-Man. So having not gotten Spider-Man, its not like Im looking around for the next comic book character.

It's impossible to talk James Cameron and not have AVATAR brought up, but I have to admit that for the first time in the pre-production process of those films, I'm actually quite interested. Since James Cameron wanted to shoot the three sequels together, he hired three writing teams (Josh Friedman, Shane Salerno, and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver respectively) to help him flesh out the story (one team for each sequel), rather than sitting down and writing those sequels back-to-back-to-back. Furthermore, it looks like they all collaborated on a three story arc, rather than writing one after another.

Here's what he had to say about the writing process:

We tried an experiment. We set ourselves a challenge of writing three films at the same time. I knew I could certainly write any one of them but to write three in some reasonable amount of time we wanted to shoot them together so we couldnt start one until all three scripts were done and approved. So I knew I was going to have to parallel process which meant I would have to work with other writers. And the best experience I had working with other writers was in television when I did Dark Angel. The television room is a highly collaborative and fun experience. So we put together a team, three teams actually one for each script. The teams consist of me and another writer on each one of those three films. Each (writer) would have their own script that theyre responsible for. But what we did that was unique beforehand was we sat in a writing room for five-months eight-hours-a-day and we worked out every beat of the story across all three films so it all connects as one three film saga. I didnt tell (the writers) which sequel was going to be theirs to write until the very last day. So everybody was equally invested story-wise in all three films. So the guy that got the third movie, which is the middle film of this new trilogy, he now knows what preceded and what follows out of what hes writing at any given moment. We all consider that to be a really exciting, creative and groundbreaking experiment in screenwriting. It worked as a process to get our minds around this epic and all these new creatures and environments and characters.

I feel James Cameron is very similar to George Lucas, in that he has some great ideas but should probably take a backseat to writing given how focused he is on other aspects of film-making. The biggest gripe with AVATAR was that the story was all too familiar. Now that we have these separate writers working on each sequel (and that Cameron was there to collaborate with them at the start), I feel we may have some interesting stories in regards to these sequels. Anywhere you turn, people are quick to bash the idea of AVATAR sequels, so they must just surprise us. Time will tell.

Source: ColliderCollider

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5:12AM on 06/03/2014

double

Psss..
Psss..
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+2
5:08AM on 06/03/2014
Honestly, as a writer, I love the idea. Sounds pretty cool. It'd be really interesting to see how the franchise will evolve story wise. Now, with that being said, the experiment isn't so hard when you're writing something that's not based on an original idea. Try doing that with all original ideas and then I'll have my mind blown. I'm not hating on the man either. I can only dream of having the vision he has.

As for Terminator... I think it's awesome he added his 2 cents because his 2 cents
Honestly, as a writer, I love the idea. Sounds pretty cool. It'd be really interesting to see how the franchise will evolve story wise. Now, with that being said, the experiment isn't so hard when you're writing something that's not based on an original idea. Try doing that with all original ideas and then I'll have my mind blown. I'm not hating on the man either. I can only dream of having the vision he has.

As for Terminator... I think it's awesome he added his 2 cents because his 2 cents of all people on any Terminator project is just priceless.

And random thought... this next movie will either be a massive box office record or a major box office record flop. I could really see it going both ways. And if God forbid (well maybe God permits depending on how you look at it) it takes any longer to come out I can only see this going really bad.
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6:27PM on 06/02/2014
Shocked as hell the usual CGI loving and "3D is the future'' topics didnt come up. And I hate the idea of Avatar sequels because he's trying to force Avatar to be what Lord of the Rings and Star Wars became naturally
Shocked as hell the usual CGI loving and "3D is the future'' topics didnt come up. And I hate the idea of Avatar sequels because he's trying to force Avatar to be what Lord of the Rings and Star Wars became naturally
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1:10PM on 06/02/2014
I loved his scriptment for Spider-Man. I thought it was far better than any of the movies we've gotten so far. He completely nailed the coming of age aspect of Spider-Man/Peter Parker.
I loved his scriptment for Spider-Man. I thought it was far better than any of the movies we've gotten so far. He completely nailed the coming of age aspect of Spider-Man/Peter Parker.
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4:00AM on 06/03/2014
I read the review of the script. Doesn't seem too far off from what we got in Raimi's first Spider-Man movie, down to the organic webshooters. But having Peter built a fake webshooter to cover the fact that he has organic webshooters for his wresting match (so that people won't get grossed out by the fact that the webbing is his own bodily fluid, I guess) is something quite original that I think could have worked. I also liked that his Spider-Man is still a highschool student all through the
I read the review of the script. Doesn't seem too far off from what we got in Raimi's first Spider-Man movie, down to the organic webshooters. But having Peter built a fake webshooter to cover the fact that he has organic webshooters for his wresting match (so that people won't get grossed out by the fact that the webbing is his own bodily fluid, I guess) is something quite original that I think could have worked. I also liked that his Spider-Man is still a highschool student all through the story.
+4
12:36PM on 06/02/2014
Cool. For some reason I think ppl hate on Avatar a little unfairly. Yea, I've seen that story before, but I've seen that with a lot of films and they don't get the same amount of hate. Anyway, what's up with JC's shirt in the middle pic? Is that a shadow? Or was he drenched with water?
Cool. For some reason I think ppl hate on Avatar a little unfairly. Yea, I've seen that story before, but I've seen that with a lot of films and they don't get the same amount of hate. Anyway, what's up with JC's shirt in the middle pic? Is that a shadow? Or was he drenched with water?
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2:16PM on 06/02/2014
I agree. Simple plot doesn't mean simple movie! A simple story was needed in that movie so that the audience could sit back and enjoy the world that was created.

also, it's not that fucking simple either. I loved everything on Pandora was connected and all life-forms could join etc. really cool stuff.

I don't get the hate on Avatar - and people cant hate it that much - It made 5 trillion dollars.
I agree. Simple plot doesn't mean simple movie! A simple story was needed in that movie so that the audience could sit back and enjoy the world that was created.

also, it's not that fucking simple either. I loved everything on Pandora was connected and all life-forms could join etc. really cool stuff.

I don't get the hate on Avatar - and people cant hate it that much - It made 5 trillion dollars.
12:04PM on 06/02/2014
The guy has had nothing but success in Hollywood, and that just doesn't happen by accident. Wish he was still in the writing mix on all these Terminator films, that way it wouldn't have gotten so side tracked.
The guy has had nothing but success in Hollywood, and that just doesn't happen by accident. Wish he was still in the writing mix on all these Terminator films, that way it wouldn't have gotten so side tracked.
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11:53AM on 06/02/2014
James Cameron is a talented filmmaker. Sure, he has a massive ego, but I think he has the talent to back it up somewhat. While I did enjoy Avatar as a showcase for the filmmaking technology Cameron helped to develop, I think it would be a shame if he has decided that Avatar films are the only things he will do for the rest of his career. When he filled in Empire Magazine's director questionnaire, he answered the question "what movie do you wish you had directed yourself?" with Jurassic Park.
James Cameron is a talented filmmaker. Sure, he has a massive ego, but I think he has the talent to back it up somewhat. While I did enjoy Avatar as a showcase for the filmmaking technology Cameron helped to develop, I think it would be a shame if he has decided that Avatar films are the only things he will do for the rest of his career. When he filled in Empire Magazine's director questionnaire, he answered the question "what movie do you wish you had directed yourself?" with Jurassic Park. Now, that would've been interesting to see.
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11:41AM on 06/02/2014
Terminator Genesis- I'm glad Cameron was at least consulted for the movie. Maybe more so then he is admitting.

Spider-Man- had no idea he was involved with the character in any capacity. Interesting news

Avatar sequels- I'm looking forward to them. I know 3 movies are overload but I'm not one of the many Avatar haters. I wish Arnold got some sort of role. It's looking unlikely that Arnold/Cameron will ever work together again
Terminator Genesis- I'm glad Cameron was at least consulted for the movie. Maybe more so then he is admitting.

Spider-Man- had no idea he was involved with the character in any capacity. Interesting news

Avatar sequels- I'm looking forward to them. I know 3 movies are overload but I'm not one of the many Avatar haters. I wish Arnold got some sort of role. It's looking unlikely that Arnold/Cameron will ever work together again
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11:33AM on 06/02/2014
Cameron is one of the best writers in Hollywood, so he should never take a backseat as far as writing goes.

But he did say that he made Avatar's story deliberately familiar to give the audience an attachment to the weird sci-fi. We can argue against that all we want, be he obviously knows a thing or two about getting the audience to accept something.
Cameron is one of the best writers in Hollywood, so he should never take a backseat as far as writing goes.

But he did say that he made Avatar's story deliberately familiar to give the audience an attachment to the weird sci-fi. We can argue against that all we want, be he obviously knows a thing or two about getting the audience to accept something.
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11:46AM on 06/02/2014
I couldn't agree more. He's a smart business man, to say the least.
I couldn't agree more. He's a smart business man, to say the least.
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