James Cameron: The World Should Be Shot in 3-D

Written by Michael Stroud

3-D movies — from Jaws in 1983 to Spy Kids in 2003 — have long been staples of movie fare. Then as now, audience goers donned special glasses that make double images leap out of the screen. But today’s movies, using advanced cameras, are far sharper; and the prospect of standardized 3-D for all films and TV shows means the technology will likely become a DVD staple, too, over the next 10 years.

Or at least that’s director James Cameron’s message at Hollywood’s first 3-D Entertainment Summit. Cameron is currently producing Avatar, his eagerly awaited $200-million feature film, set on another planet in the far future. Shot entirely in 3-D, the film is set for release in December 2009.

“There’s nothing in the palette of entertainment that can’t be done in 3-D,” he said. “All the hard work has been done.”

Avatar is about a paralyzed ex-marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) whose consciousness is transferred to an alien body and sent to a foreign planet to settle and exploit it. Sci-fi stalwart Sigourney Weaver (Alien) stars as Sully’s mentor and actress Zoë Saldaña provides the voice of Sully’s alien lover (the character is computer generated).

Cameron called his work on Aliens of the Deep, a 3-D documentary from 2005 that explored the wreck of the Titanic, a “proof of concept” that gave him the expertise in stereoscopic filmmaking to take on what he calls the most ambitious 3-D film ever created. His original Titanic blockbuster would have looked “gorgeous” in 3-D, he added.

Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group, told attendees earlier that the company plans to release 17 3-D pictures over the next few years.

Still, Avatar and all future 3-D films will “live or die based on (their) own merits,” he said. “Market forces drive this thing based on content.’’ That means Cameron, who says he’s concerned he can’t live up to all the hype surrounding the film, still has something to sweat about. “The movie may suck,” he said. “I happen to like it.”

Michael Stroud runs iHollywoodForum, a digital media event and media company in Los Angeles.