Some people might argue that James Cameron is the most successful commercial director of all time. I know die-hard Steven Spielberg fans are probably throwing things at the screen right now but in terms of dollars grossed, Cameron has the two biggest box office hits of all time with Titanic and Avatar which account for almost $5 billion dollars alone. Some naysayers might point out that Spielberg’s films have totaled over $10 billion but with 34 films under his belt that number becomes less impressive.
However, if Cameron is so successful, what has he been doing for the last 10 years – ever since the release of Avatar. Cameron spent years developing the motion capture technology used to bring the exotic landscape and extraterrestrial world to life. Whisper campaigns began to spread that costs were overrunning and that Avatar was going to be an almighty flop. Once again, Cameron got the last laugh.
Since the release of Avatar in late 2009, however, James Cameron has pretty much disappeared. Sure, he’s coming back as a producer for the newest Terminator film but how involved he is debatable. It’s been a long time since he’s actually taken charge creatively and directed.
When Avatar was released, it lived up to the hype – making over $2.7 billion worldwide. Even Before the film hit theaters, Cameron stated his intention to make two sequels. When the extent of Avatar’s profits became clear, Cameron began talking a bit more about what the first sequel would entail: further adventures of the central pairing, Sully and Neytiri, with sequences taking place in the planet Pandora’s ocean and returning appearances from Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang. However 10 years later, those plans seem in jeopardy.
Avatar 2 was supposed to be completed and released by 2014, with the second film following on one year later. Yet as 2014 came and went, all we really knew about the Avatar franchise were from rumours and gossip. The release of Avatar 2 was then pushed back to 2016, but Cameron then announced that two further sequels would come out in 2017 and 2018. So far we have had nothing promising released to indicate the sequels are anywhere close to being finished.
While there is little doubt that Cameron will see his baby come to life, one of the questions remains is what is the appetite for a sequel ten years later? Despite Avatar being the highest-grossing film of all time, it’s all but forgotten in the pop culture landscape.
While his other success, Titanic, has remained alive – most famous, or infamously perhaps, the end scene between Jack and Rose. Second, perhaps, is the scene where Jack and Rose lean out on the front of the boat, spreading their arms against the wind. These scenes continue to play out across social media, memes, and even in other movies. There are no memorable scenes in Avatar that stand out.
Where most movie makers would be pressured to get a sequel out within a year or two, Cameron’s evidently been given the luxury of spreading out and creating the sprawling Avatar sci-fi universe as he sees fit.
Whatever happens, Cameron will have spent the better part of his life working on Avatar and its universe. Will they be his ultimate masterpiece or films like Terminator 2, Aliens,The Abyss, and Titanic be the films he is best known for? Only time will tell.
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