When it comes to blockbuster directors, few are bigger than James Cameron, whose films have grossed more than $6 billion at the global box office.
In addition to hits like “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Aliens”, Cameron’s filmography also includes “Titanic”, which was the highest-grossing film of all time for years until it broke its own record with “Avatar” in 2009. Dollars brought in.
His greatest films were both massive undertakings that drew moviegoers in droves for the size and spectacle of what was being shown. But for his next film, Avatar: The Way of Water, he had to move his whole life to New Zealand to do the arduous work on its sequel.
While the past few years have been filled with hard work, that’s one of the reasons Cameron wanted to do it.
“Difficult things attract me. Difficult is a magnet for me,” the director said in a recent GQ cover story while promoting the next Avatar installment.
From diving to the bottom of the ocean to film the wreck of Titanic to developing new technology to bring Pandora to life for Avatar, Cameron has a reputation for pushing boundaries with his filmmaking.
“I think it probably stems from this idea that there are a lot of smart, really gifted, really talented filmmakers out there that just can’t do the difficult stuff,” Cameron said. “So that gives me a tactical advantage to do something that nobody’s seen before, because the really gifted people don’t fucking want to do it.”
With the difficulties that come with making his films come huge budgets. The first Avatar cost nearly $250 million to produce, and Cameron says that to break even, the second film “would have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. This is your threshold. That’s your breakeven point.”
While Cameron says he “used to be very defensive” about the cost of his films and is known as a big-budget director, the 68-year-old has seen high production prices as a worthwhile investment.
“If I can make a business case for spending a billion dollars on a film, I will do it. Do you want to know why? Because we don’t put everything in a heap and set it on fire. We’re giving it to the people,” he said. “If the studio agrees and thinks it’s a good investment, as opposed to buying an oil leasehold in the north of Scotland, which someone would think would be a good investment, why not?”
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