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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: James Cameron

James Cameron, Jeremy Renner hit Beijing film festival

April 23, 2012 |  4:44 pm

Jeremy renner beijing film festival
There was plenty of Hollywood to go around on the opening day of the second Beijing International Film Festival on Monday. The day started with a morning screening of Marvel's "The Avengers" and finished with a gala that included popular vocalist Wang Leehom playing the piano and singing “As Time Goes By” from “Casablanca” while images of Humphrey Bogart floated across a backdrop. An orchestra even played a medley of Hollywood scores, from “Star Wars” and “Titanic” to “Mamma Mia!”

But if overseas visitors had any doubt about how China perceives its role in the movie world, the opening night gala provided ample reminders that it envisions great things. 

Between acrobatic dancers performing in rich silks and a shrill processional conjuring Peking Opera, Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong, the festival’s honorary chairman, nearly shouted at classical oratory volumes at the roughly 2,000 guests packed into the China National Convention Center theater for the three-hour gala.

Touting the six-day Beijing event as a better draw than its veteran competitor -- the Shanghai International Film Festival, which will turn 15 this June -- Guo said that the Beijing event was meant to define the capital as “a national cultural center and contributor to the exchange and prosperity of the world film industry.”

As Guo and Zhang Pimin, deputy director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, belted out their speeches, their prepared remarks were projected onto giant screens for the few hundred foreign visitors in the audience, including, in the front row, James Cameron, director of the current China box-office hit “Titanic 3D.”

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'Titanic 3D' will convert you too: Betsy Sharkey's film pick

April 19, 2012 |  8:00 am

"Titanic 3D"
It may drive his crews crazy, but the fact that James Cameron is an infamous perfectionist pays off nicely in the conversion of his Oscar-winning 1997 blockbuster “Titanic” into 3-D.

The filmmaker did more than test the technology-roiled waters with “Avatar” in 2009, when he rewrote the navigation chart with a rich dimensionality that was groundbreaking. But what happens when the director re-imagines the past with the aid of the new tools?

All good things.

“Titanic” was gorgeous when it landed 15 years ago, but watching it set sail in 3-D is breathtaking. Just as satisfying as the brilliant new colors and a ship that seems at times suspended in the air is watching Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet falling in love again -- passion and heartbreak are better in 3-D too.

The technology, and the choices Cameron and his team make on when and where to employ it, allows certain moments to completely overtake the senses. The iconic shot of the windblown young lovers on the prow of the ship feels close enough to touch.


'Titanic 3D' world premiere

Is the world ready for another good 'Titanic' cry?

Kate Winslet's breasts censored from 'Titanic 3D' in China

-- Betsy Sharkey

Photo caption: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as ill-fated young lovers in "Titanic 3D." Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Kate Winslet's breasts censored from 'Titanic 3D' in China

April 12, 2012 | 12:31 pm


"Titanic 3D" was an instant box-office hit when it opened in China this week, but audiences there didn't get to see one of the movie's most famous scenes -- Kate Winslet reclining nude as Leonardo DiCaprio paints her portrait.

China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television censored the scene in the new, 3-D version of the film, just as it did in the movie's first theatrical run there in 1998. But because many Chinese fans initially saw pirated versions of "Titanic," many were familiar with the scene and chagrined by the omission.

"I've been waiting almost 15 years, and not for the 3-D icebergs," said one disappointed moviegoer in a widely circulated microblog post quoted by China Daily.

Pleasing Chinese audiences is increasingly important for movie studios, as the country has become one of the leading foreign markets for Hollywood films.

When "Titanic" was released in China 14 years ago, the movie played in only 180 theaters. This week, "Titanic 3D" was screened in 3,500 locations in the country.

On its opening day Tuesday in China, "Titanic 3D" sold $11.6 million worth of tickets, more than a quarter of the $44 million the original grossed in China during its entire theatrical run.


'Titanic 3D' world premiere

Is the world ready for another good 'Titanic' cry?

'Titanic 3D' breaks opening day box-office records in China


--Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic." Credit: Paramount Pictures

‘Avatar 2:’ How long will we realistically have to wait?

April 6, 2012 |  5:27 pm


James Cameron junkies get their fix this weekend with the release of “Titanic 3-D.” But how long will moviegoers have to wait for something new from the master of the interplanetary and the blue-tailed?

When it initially announced "Avatar 2" a little over a year ago, studio Fox was hopeful for a 2014 release. But Jon Landau, Cameron's producing partner and sometime interview-giver-in-chief, created a small stir this week when he told the website Empire that the sequel, which is expected to take place largely underwater, may not be ready until 2015.

"We're not naming dates, but I think 2014 will be a tough date for us to make. It's about getting it right," said Landau, noting that effects work has begun on the film. (Landau added that "movies make release dates; release dates don't make movies," a position that only a studio filmmaker named James Cameron has the luxury of taking.)

Landau's  comments sounded alarm bells throughout the blogosphere, though the truth is that it's more optimistic than the date range the producer offered in his last round of interviews, when he intimated it could be 2016 before the film is ready.

Cameron isn’t known for speed at this stage of his career. Though he made four movies between 1989 and 1997, it took him 12 years to get his next movie completed, with "Avatar" not hitting theaters until 2009.

Cameron's meticulous work style is amplified by his clout — studios wouldn’t generally tolerate years of waiting from, well, nearly any other filmmaker. It helps to have the two highest-grossing movies of all time ("Avatar" and "Titanic").

Also not moving things along is the fact that Cameron has been spending a lot of time lately under the sea. After journeying solo to the depths of the Mariana Trench, he’s next joining up with a crew in Guam, where he'll make two more dives. Then he’ll come up for air and begin pre-production on “Avatar 2.” As the filmmaker conceded to my colleague Rebecca Keegan recently, "My purpose in making a movie is to make enough money so I can dive.”

Add to these factors the new film’s underwater setting and all the logistics that implies, and don't be surprised if 2016 is where we end up. A James Cameron release is often just around the corner, except not quite.


James Cameron Avatar sequels to draw on master navigators

Titanic director James Cameron to attempt historic ocean dive

Will the world be overcome by Titanic fever again?

A pair of 'Avatar' sequels is on its way from James Cameron

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Avatar." Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Titanic 4DX': Foreign audiences to smell, feel ship's sinking

April 4, 2012 |  1:51 pm

Titanic The salty scent of ocean air, the frigid winds of the North Atlantic, the jarring bump of a 46,000-ton ship hitting an iceberg — for international audiences who wish to add yet another dimension to the 3-D re-release of James Cameron's “Titanic,” there is “Titanic 4DX.”

A South Korean company called CJ 4DPlex Co. has created a theme park ride-like experience to accompany screenings of “Titanic 3D” in 26 theaters in South Korea, Mexico, China and Thailand starting Thursday.

4DX places theater audiences inside a film’s environment using motion, wind, fog, lighting and scent-based special effects. Launched in 2009, 4DX is also being applied to such recent movies as “The Hunger Games” and “John Carter” and the upcoming “The Avengers.” (It’s unclear what the sinking Titanic smells like, but we bet there will be liberal use of the “short bursts of sharp air” and “face water” features — not to mention the pitch and roll seats.)

Cameron and his studio partners spent 60 weeks and $18 million to make a 3-D version of “Titanic,” the 1997 blockbuster about a young couple, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet), who fall in love aboard the doomed luxury liner. Screenings of “Titanic 3D” in the U.S., where it opened Tuesday night, will not include 4DX’s extrasensory enhancements.

But CJ 4DPlex has opened an office in Hollywood and plans to expand to U.S. theaters, ultimately reaching more than 800 auditoriums worldwide by 2016, according to a news release issued by the company.

“We work with the world’s leading studios and filmmakers to bring movie magic alive for audiences,” CJ 4DPlex Chief Executive Ho Seung Lee said in the release. “Presenting ‘Titanic,’ one of the greatest films ever made, in 4DX is a great honor, and we are excited to usher audiences onboard to meet Jack and Rose.”


Is the world ready for another good 'Titanic' cry?

Robert Rodriguez defends movies that smell

Titanic: A century in film and television

 --Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in "Titanic." Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Word of Mouth: 'Wrath' tries to right 'Clash's' 3-D wrongs

March 29, 2012 |  4:18 pm

"Wrath of the Titans"

The Hollywood gods spoke. And they did not approve of "Clash of the Titans."

Even though 2010's sword and sandals was a global blockbuster -- its nearly $500 million worldwide haul made it the year's 11th highest-grossing release -- its industry critics made a lot more noise than the ticket buyers. The focus of their ire? The hasty "Clash of the Titans" 3-D conversion, undertaken at the last minute to take advantage of higher 3-D ticket prices.

While James Cameron is spending more than a year turning his 1997 smash "Titanic" into a 3-D presentation for its April 4 re-release, the makers of "Clash of the Titans" spent a mere six weeks hurriedly converting the mythological spectacle into 3-D.

DreamWorks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg said the film's makeover "snookered" ticket buyers, while "Avatar" creator Cameron said of the conversion, "There was no artistry to it whatsoever."

Arriving on Friday, the "Clash of the Titans" sequel, called "Wrath of the Titans," attempts to atone for the first film's shortcomings.

Although the new, $150-million "Titans" film also was converted from 2-D into 3-D, any number of shots and visual effects sequences were designed from the very beginning for stereoscopic presentation. What's more, the filmmakers spent a year on the 3-D upgrade, working hard to ensure that the conversion was done as well as possible.

Even if "Wrath of the Titans," which stars "Avatar's" Sam Worthington, silences its 3-D critics, it will have a hard time making a big splash at the box office, as it must fend off "The Hunger Games" juggernaut. The reviews for the film have been better than they were for "Clash of the Titans," but the "Wrath" notices are still mixed to negative.

In this week's Word of Mouth column, John Horn looks at the sequel's prospects, and previews his report in this video:


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Photo: Danny Huston, left, and Sam Worthington in "Wrath of the Titans." Credit: Jay Maidment / MCT

'Titanic' and 'Avatar' director James Cameron reaches ocean's deepest point [Updated]

March 25, 2012 |  6:06 pm

James Cameron

After seven years of preparation and several days of waiting out bad weather, "Titanic" and "Avatar" director James Cameron became the first person to reach the deepest point in the world's oceans in a solo dive on Sunday.

At 2:52 p.m. Pacific time (7:52 a.m. local time), Cameron arrived at the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep, a depth of 35,756 feet in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Guam, according to National Geographic.

The director shared the news via Twitter, tweeting at about 3 p.m., "Just arrived at the ocean's deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can't wait to share what I'm seeing w/ you @DeepChallenge."

[Update 7:13 p.m. Sunday: Cameron surfaced from the historic dive at approximately 7 p.m. Pacific time, after a faster-than-expected 70-minute ascent, according to National Geographic.]

Cameron helped design a torpedo-shaped submersible called the Deepsea Challenger, which he rode in nearly seven miles to the earth's floor, becoming only the third person to reach the depth and the first to do it alone. His first words to his crew upon reaching the bottom were, "All systems OK," according to National Geographic, which has partnered with Cameron on the endeavor.

The director plans to spend up to six hours in the trench collecting samples of sediment and small sea creatures and shooting still images and 3D footage of life on the deep sea floor. Then Cameron will drop 1,000 pounds of ballast weight and the sub will ascend to his research vessels on the ocean surface.

If all goes according to plan, the director will make a hasty return to his day job--film studios Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox are expecting him at the London premiere of "Titanic 3D" on Tuesday.


'Titanic' director James Cameron to attempt historic ocean dive

In this 'Sanctum,' Cameron is godfather

Cameron to produce next two 'Avatar' films in Manhattan Beach

--Rebecca Keegan


Photo: James Cameron in front of the Deepsea Challenger. Credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

'Titanic' director James Cameron to attempt historic ocean dive

March 8, 2012 |  5:27 pm

James Cameron Mariana Trench
James Cameron will attempt to dive to the world's deepest point, the Mariana Trench, in a one-man submersible over the next several days in a scientific project with the National Geographic Society.

The director of "Avatar" and "Titanic" plans to spend six hours at the bottom of the nearly seven-mile  deep Pacific Ocean trench known as the Challenger Deep in a single pilot craft, collecting samples for scientific research and shooting footage with his 3-D cameras, National Geographic announced on Thursday.

"Jim is an explorer," Cameron's producing partner Jon Landau said in an interview. "His movies are a way of letting him explore. This is something he's been wanting to do for a long time."

The director will document the trip for two projects, one a 3-D documentary for theatrical release, and the other a National Geographic TV special.

Cameron, who has made 76 submersible dives, including 33 to the Titanic wreck site in the North Atlantic, began work on the Challenger Deep project eight years ago. During the making of "Avatar," he supervised construction of the submersible in Australia while on lunch breaks in his office on the Los Angeles production set. The 12-ton, 25-foot, torpedo-shaped craft, named the Deep Challenger, will take 90 minutes to descend to the ocean floor and 70 minutes to ascend.

The Challenger Deep has only been reached once by a manned submersible, in 1960, by U.S. Navy Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard in the bathyscaph Trieste. They spent about 20 minutes on the ocean floor before returning to the surface.

The project's dangers were tragically illustrated in February, when "Sanctum" writer-producer Andrew Wight and documentary filmmaker and marine biologist Mike deGruy were killed in a helicopter crash in Australia on their way to film a Deep Challenger sea trial.

On Tuesday, Cameron successfully completed field tests off the coast of Guam, including one to a depth of five miles, according to National Geographic.

"Everything we do in life has its risks," Landau said of Cameron's dive plans. "There’s nobody that takes more time in preparation and safety than Jim does. Jim is the most prepared person I know."

National Geographic and Rolex are sharing the cost of the expedition. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the universities of Hawaii and Guam are also scientific collaborators on the project.

Cameron's next trip into theaters comes with the April release of "Titanic 3D," which premieres in London on March 27.

Asked if Cameron's deep-sea exploration will be done in time for that film, Landau said, "Jim will be at the premiere."

A video Cameron made explaining the expedition is below.


In this 'Sanctum,' Cameron is godfather

Cameron to produce next two 'Avatar' films in Manhattan Beach

--Rebecca Keegan


Photo: James Cameron in front of the Deepsea Challenger. Credit: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic



Paramount to distribute 3-D Cirque du Soleil film

January 10, 2012 | 11:03 am

Paramount Pictures will distribute a new 3-D movie about Cirque du Soleil directed by “Shrek” filmmaker Andrew Adamson and produced by “Avatar’s” James Cameron, the studio and the Canadian circus outfit announced Tuesday.

The studio did not specify a release date for “Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away” but did say the movie, which combines narrative and documentary storytelling, will arrive in theaters this year.

“The coupling of filmmaker James Cameron’s groundbreaking 3-D visual accomplishments and Andrew Adamson’s beautiful direction, combined with a timeless original story written especially for this movie, will make for a truly amazing moviegoeing experience for audiences of all ages,” Rob Moore, Paramount’s vice chairman, said in a statement.

In announcing the roughly $20-miilion production more than a year ago, Adamson said he wasn’t interested in making a commercial for Cirque, which projects that 15 million people will see one of its arty circus productions this year.

"I want to make a film that celebrates what Cirque does,” he said at the time. “It’s not a documentary. And, at the same time, it’s not a visual effects show. We are not going to remove the wires that the performers are flying on. What we are doing is celebrating an art form.”

He said Cameron may shoot some underwater sequences for the movie, which could be the first in a series of Cirque films.

“I wanted to give a very different perspective of Cirque and put the audience at an angle they’ve never seen before,” Adamson said. “I think we’re able to take the audience into the show. You can focus on something you might otherwise not have noticed.”

-- John Horn


Creative minds behind Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris'

Cirque du Soleil loves movies more than it loves Hollywood

Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris' begins previews at the Kodak Theatre

Photo:  An act in Cirque du Soleil's "Kooza." Credit: Olivier Samson Arcand

'Titanic 3D': James Cameron introduces trailer for his '97 epic [video]

November 16, 2011 |  2:46 pm

In an era when film trailers debut before many eyeballs on cellphone screens, how do you market a movie whose story is well known and whose chief selling point is the big screen, 3-D experience?

In the case of "Titanic 3D," the 3-D conversion of James Cameron's 1997 epic due in theaters in April, distributors Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox are trying a mixture of personal appeal and nostalgia.

In a version of the trailer that debuted only on "Titanic's" Facebook page today, Cameron stepped in front of the camera to introduce the film. "I'm excited to be bringing 'Titanic' back to the big screen again," he said, before thanking the movie's 10 million Facebook fans "for staying true to 'Titanic.' ''

For most moviegoers around the globe, the elements of the trailer will be intimately familiar: a 22-year-old, tuxedo clad Leonardo DiCaprio at the foot of the ship's grand staircase, 21-year-old Kate Winslet posing nude for a portrait, the massive passenger liner plummeting vertically into the North Atlantic as Celine Dion belts out "My Heart Will Go On."

The two studios are spending $18 million converting the film, a winner of 14 Academy Awards and the highest grossing movie of all time until Cameron's "Avatar" knocked it from its perch in 2009. They are banking on fans coming back to theaters, just as they did for Disney's recent 3-D conversion of "The Lion King," as well as those who were either too young or too far from theaters to see "Titanic" on the big screen in the first place, such as audiences in burgeoning film territories like China and Russia.

"Titanic 3-D" will be released worldwide April 6.



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Box Office: Pitt, Lautner beaten by 17-year-old 'Lion King'

 -- Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic." Credit: Paramount Pictures / 20th Century Fox


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