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When producers attack: 'Piranha's' Mark Canton takes on James Cameron

August 31, 2010 | 11:33 am

"Piranha 3D" may not have conjured up a huge number of scares, but the meta-story around the Dimension Films release is turning into entertaining bloodsport.

After first releasing a fake Oscar video from members of the cast, the Weinstein Co. division is now sending out word about one of the producers, Mark Canton, responding angrily to James Cameron's (slight) knock on the film.

Piran In a much larger VanityFair.com interview about his views on 3-D, the "Avatar" re-release and his latest work, Cameron says that he didn't like the way "Piranha 3-D" used the technology. Cameron, who worked for a few days on the sequel to the Joe Dante original before being fired from the production, said that "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."

That was all Canton needed to pounce like, well, a piranha. In a 15-paragraph screed sent to reporters Tuesday morning that led with  "Jim, are you kidding or what?" and "Mr. Cameron, who singles himself out to be a visionary of movie-making, seems to have a small vision regarding any motion pictures that are not his own," Canton makes his broadside against the director.

Part of Canton's invective is personal, "What it comes down to, Jim, is -- that like most things in life -- size doesn’t really matter. Not everyone has the advantage of having endless amounts of money to play in their sandbox and to take ten years using other people’s money to make and market a film ... like you do. Why can’t you just count your blessings?"

Part of it goes to Canton's irritation that Cameron is claiming ownership of Hollywood's z-axis craze. "Let’s just keep this in mind Jim -- you did not invent 3D. You were fortunate that others inspired you to take it further."

Then it gets into what Canton, who produced "300" and a host of Hollywood films over the last few decades, really thought about Cameron's piece de resistance. "To be honest, I found the 3D in 'Avatar' to be inconsistent and while ground breaking in many respects, sometimes I thought it overwhelmed the storytelling," he said. "Technology aside, I wish 'Avatar' had been more original in its storytelling."

And finally it comes down to, well, getting attention for the film, of course. "My sense is that Mr. Cameron has never seen Piranha 3D ... certainly not in a movie theatre with a real audience. Jim, we invite you to take that opportunity and experience the movie in a theatre full of fans -- fans for whom this movie was always intended to entertain. ... [You have] no clue as to how great and how much of a fun-filled experience the audiences who have seen the film in 3D have enjoyed."

One gets the sense from the e-mail that Canton is genuinely upset, though it doesn't hurt publicity efforts for "Piranha" to engage in a fight with a much bigger fish like Cameron.

But the real irony here is that Cameron's original comments may have targeted what audiences actually like about "Piranha." Part of the movie's appeal comes from its throwback campiness. Director Alexandre Aja basically said as much when he told our colleague Gina McIntyre that his intention was for an '80s era pop pleasure  modeled as a kind of "Gremlins" for adults. The idea, he said, was for "a very simple, efficient concept to reboot or reinvent that kind of disaster movie, creature movie from the '80s, that kind of guilty-pleasure movie that delivers on every front." Canton may have felt it more personally, but Cameron's attack seems largely bloodless.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: An image from "Piranha 3D." Credit: Dimension Films


"Piranha 3D" director says his movie is Gremlins for adults

"Piranha 3D," the Oscar campaign

Movie review: "Piranha 3D"

Comments () | Archives (6)

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I saw "Piranha 3D" in a theater not because it was my first choice, but the 20-somethings I was taking to the movies decided that was what they wanted when I suggested "Hubble 3D" after balking at "The Last Exorcism." I thought "P3D" might be a goof. The 3D was terrible -- flat -- didn't add anything at all to what was essentially a soft-porn horror spoof. I saw a RealD presentation, and I was surprised how flat it looked because that technology is usually better. The underwater sequences looked as if they were composited. Which of course they probably were.

Why Mr. Cameron even bothered to comment is beyond me, but I think Mr. Canton should zip it until he makes a better movie.

Maybe it's all in good fun, but there was nothing original about his fish flick, and it certainly doesn't deserve any technical kudos because the work was shabby.

Calling James Cameron an arrogant elitist 3-D cheerleader is like calling Lindsay Lohan a trainwreck. Too easy. Cameron honestly thinks 3-D is going to become the standard in the same way that color replaced black and white as the standard for films. He's wrong. And he should have kept his mouth shut about the fish movie. I think the bloom is officially off the "Avatar" rose after its disappointing box office in rerelease.

Too funny! Canton sounds much more like the brat he tries to make out Cameron to be.

And, as with everything in Hollywood, money talks. Piranha flopped. That's probably why Canton is in such a pissy mood.

Haha well said Canton, Its nice to finally see someone in Hollywood reach down and grab their ( Expletive). Its rare for someone these days to speak their mind, everyone is too worried about reputations and being sued for slander! Avatar sucked, I don't care that it almost made Three Billion dollars world-wide!

I laughed my butt off at the Re-Release..$4 Million Dollars. Ha it didn't even make the top ten list. Cameron needs to sit back and watch Resident Evil Afterlife, which in fact comes out September 10. They used the exact same cameras, maybe Jim can take some notes, on proper 3-D use.

there s a penis in 3d, chewed up and spit out by a piranha. quality stuff!

Does Aja know that GREMLINS was directed by the same guy who directed the original PIRANHA? Does he know that the original was funny, and written by some guy named John Sayles? Does he know that Variety's original print review said it was one of the best movies about the aftermath of the Viet Nam War made?

Has anyone done a comparison between the original and remake for the LA Times?


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