James Cameron Talks About the 3-D Craze, Slams Piranha 3D
08.31.10 by Ryan
James Cameron changed the modern movie landscape with his 3-D Avatar, officially the highest-grossing movie of all time. The success of Avatar led studios to evaluate their movie slates, looking for titles ripe for a 3-D conversion. In addition, other movies began production in 3-D. Now it seems the format will continue to dominate for the next few years, if not longer. While Cameron may be indirectly blamed for the 3-D craze that movies are undergoing, he doesn't have to like it. Cameron told Vanity Fair that the 3-D boom was "not his fault."
We worked for four-and-a-half years to make Avatar what it is. There are a number of good movies that are being natively authored in 3-D that are coming out. But what you saw was sort of the gold rush. After Avatar, people tried to cash in. Or, in some cases, like Alice in Wonderland and How to Train Your Dragon — especially the latter, which I think is excellent in 3-D — they were films that were in the pipeline for some time. They weren't cashing in, they were just coming out. You're going to see the whole market kind of stabilize and redefine itself over the next couple of years. Look, it's caveat emptor as well. The consumer needs to be aware that just because a movie is in 3-D doesn't mean that it's good. And they can find out online or the media can talk about it. Was it shot in 3-D or was it converted to 3-D? And even conversion itself is not necessarily bad if it's done right.
To further his point on converting, Cameron is working on a 3-D conversion of Titanic that Cameron hopes will be "the gold standard of how you do a conversion."
Cameron isn't convinced that every movie should go the 3-D route, including the recent release of Piranha 3D. Cameron is no stranger to the Piranha franchise, as 1981's Piranha 2 was his first directing job, though Cameron "worked on Piranha 2 for a few days and got fired off of it" and doesn't consider the movie as part of his "official filmography." For Cameron, Piranha 3D is what's wrong with the current 3-D craze.
I tend almost never to throw other films under the bus, but that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the '70s and '80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D. When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3-D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip. And that's not what's happening now with 3-D. It is a renaissance — right now the biggest and the best films are being made in 3-D. Martin Scorsese is making a film in 3-D [The Invention of Hugo Cabret]. Disney's biggest film of the year — Tron: Legacy — is coming out in 3-D. So it's a whole new ballgame.
To be fair to Piranha 3D, Eli Roth, who appears in the movie, has defended it as a movie that was always intended to be in 3-D and was not a last-minute conversion.