Is Jim Cameron talking out of both sides of his mouth on 3-D conversions?
Is Jim Cameron for or against converting 2-D films into 3-D? Or has he done a serious flip-flop on the issue now that Hollywood is in the midst of a 3-D blitzkrieg?
I thought Cameron was on my side on the 3-D conversion issue. In short, that means that people who start taking films they've shot in 2-D and then -- salivating at the astounding grosses that "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland" have racked up in their 3-D runs -- decide to quickly convert them into 3-D are people trying to hustle their audience and make a quick buck. Actually, make that a lot of quick bucks. That's exactly what Warner Bros. is doing right now, in the wake of "Avatar's" box-office success, with the studio working overtime to convert "Clash of the Titans" into 3-D, long after the film was already shot using conventional 2-D equipment.
In a recent interview, Cameron had bashed the quickie conversion process, saying it was "typical of Hollywood getting it wrong." The filmmaker, speaking of his work with "Avatar," said, "We do a film that is natively authored in 3-D, shot in 3-D, and so they assume from the success of that they can just turn movies into 3-D in 8 weeks ... throw a switch and that's gonna work somehow." Speaking directly about quickie studio conversions like "Clash of the Titans," Cameron added: "It's just not the way to do it. If you want to make a movie in 3-D, make the movie in 3-D."
But in Hollywood, money talks. The recent 3-D grosses have been so astounding that everyone is pushing the 3-D button. Not only are a host of sequels getting the 3-D treatment, like "Happy Feet 2" and "Friday the 13th Part 2," but Paramount is even moving ahead with a 3-D version of "Jackass." I guess it was an obvious question -- would Cameron dip back into his library and start his own 3-D conversions? And, surprisingly, considering his tough words, the answer is yes. As he told USA Today, "We're targeting the spring of 2012 for the release [of a 3-D version of 'Titanic'], which is the 100-year anniversary of the sailing of the ship."
What do you think? Is "Titanic" the kind of film you'd want to see converted to 3-D? Or is taking a masterwork and reworking it with new technology the equivalent of colorizing "Casablanca"? Should "Titanic" stand on its own as a classic of its kind -- or is any movie fair game? I'd love to hear your thoughts. But I think that if Cameron is going to beef about other people doing 3-D conversions, he shouldn't be so eager to do it himself just because he thinks he'll do it so much better than the crass, quick-buck artists who run movie studios.
Photo: James Cameron. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times