James Cameron Blasts 3D Movies Fad After Avatar’s Success

James Cameron criticizes the scramble to produce films in 3D that went on after his first Avatar film came out in 2009. Avatar’s visual effects received copious awards and accolades, and the film was seen as a breakthrough for 3D. The recent rerelease proved the potency of Avatar’s stunning scenery as the 3D images protruded from the screen, immersing audiences in the world of Pandora with a new 4K digital print. Avatar’s long-awaited sequel, Avatar: The Way of the Water, was also shot to produce 3D visuals. Audiences got a sneak peek of this 3D at the end of the Avatar rerelease, which featured a brief scene from The Way of the Water in the post-credits.

While Avatar’s 3D itself was highly regarded, the film caused a startling amount of copycats. Even early in its run, Avatar was a smashing success at the box office, with many critics touting its revolutionary visuals. Following that success, Hollywood films made a point to release nearly every major blockbuster in 3D. 3D tickets ran for a couple of dollars higher than their 2D counterparts and, for a while, were pretty popular. 3D was advertised in trailers and posters for upcoming films, as it was seen as a significant selling point for films.

In a recent interview with New York Times, Cameron and Avatar star Zoe Saldana offer scathing opinions regarding this post-Avatar trend. When asked what he thought about this Hollywood 3D craze, Cameron retorted that « the studios blew it. » He went on to explain the differences between the 3D process he underwent and that of the majority of Hollywood films. Whereas Cameron shot with cameras that rendered the visuals in 3D during production, he mentioned that most of these post-Avatar 3D productions decided on « 3-D post-conversion, » which essentially means that they add the 3D effect in the post-production process rather than filming with « natively authored 3-D. » Cameron says that the post-conversion 3-D method « yielded a poor result, » with actress Saldana adding that few people put the same commitment into stunning 3-D that Cameron did. Check out the complete statements from Cameron and Saldana below:

CAMERON I think the studios blew it. Just to save 20 percent of the authoring cost of the 3-D, they went with 3-D post-conversion, which takes it out of the hands of the filmmaker on the set and puts it into some postproduction process that yielded a poor result. I do think that the new “Avatar” film will rekindle an interest in natively authored 3-D, which is what I personally believe is the right way to do it. I say either do 3-D or don’t do 3-D, but don’t try to slap it on afterward to get the up-charge on the ticket.

SALDAÑA And look, do you want to make a lot of money, or do you want to make something you’re truly proud of that stands the test of time?

CAMERON Do I have to choose?

SALDAÑA It’s unfortunate, but people chose the moneymaking machine, the post-conversion. And not every director is like Jim, with the level of commitment you put into it. That’s the difference between a project that is just a blockbuster hit and something that is truly special, and I wish more directors would understand that. If they just did a little course at the [Directors Guild of America] …

CAMERON I’ll teach it!

As Saldana and Cameron’s discussion of this Hollywood trend indicates, Cameron’s statement shows his value for 3D as an art form. While the director has previously alluded to his confidence in Avatar 2’s box office success despite the years, it is clear that Cameron’s strategy is not purely based on monetary returns. In fact, from what Cameron describes, his 3D process may cost him 20% more than a post-production 3D process would. Since Cameron is yet again crafting a 3D Pandora in epic proportions for The Way of the Water, this cycle could repeat as other producers and directors become inspired by Cameron’s work.

The likelihood of the 3D renaissance will likely boil down to the success of Avatar: The Way of the Water. The sequel has big shoes to fill to come close to the success of 2009’s Avatar or even other box office hits from 2022, such as Top Gun Maverick. Avatar: The Way of the Water is likely to be a financial success if the rerelease’s success is any indication. In light of Cameron’s analysis of 3D, it will be interesting to see whether those who may catch on to the 3D trend again will listen to what Cameron is saying and use natively-authored 3D or succumb to the money-hungry fate of adding 3D in post-production.

Source: New York Times