James Francis Cameron (born August 16, 1954) is an Academy Award-winning Canadian-American director, producer and screenwriter. He is noted for his action/science fiction films, which are often highly innovative and financially successful. Thematically, James Cameron's films generally explore the relationship between humanity and technology. Cameron created the Terminator franchise, serving as co-writer and director for The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Later, he wrote and directed the film Titanic, which earned 11 Academy Awards and grossed over US$1.8 billion worldwide. To date, his directorial efforts have grossed approximately US$3 billion, unadjusted for inflation. After a string of landmark feature films including The Terminator, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, The Abyss, and Titanic, Cameron turned his focus to documentary filmmaking and the co-development of the digital 3-D Fusion Camera System. He is currently working on a return to feature filmmaking with the science fiction film Avatar, which will make use of the Fusion Camera System technology. Avatar is scheduled for release in December of 2009.
"completely self taught in special effects. I'd go down to the USC library and pull any theses that graduate students had written about optical printing, or front screen projection, or dye transfers, anything that related to film technology…if they'd let me photocopy it, I would. If not, I'd make notes."
After dropping out, he worked several jobs such as truck driving and wrote when he had time. After seeing the film Star Wars in 1977, Cameron quit his job as a truck driver to enter the film industry. When Cameron read Syd Field's book Screenplay, it occurred to him that integrating science and art were possible and he wrote a ten minute science fiction script with two friends, entitled Xenogenesis. They raised money and rented a camera, lenses, the film stocks, studio and shot it in 35mm. To understand how to operate the camera, they dismantled it and spent the first half-day of the shoot trying to figure out how to get it running.
Cameron was hired as the special effects director for the sequel of Piranha, entitled Piranha II: The Spawning in 1981. However, the director left the project and Cameron was hired by Italian producer Assonitis to take over, giving him his first directorial job. He worked with producer Roger Corman. The interior scenes were filmed in Rome, Italy while the underwater diving sequences were shot at Grand Cayman Island.
The movie was to be produced on Jamaica, but when Cameron arrived at the studio, he discovered his crew was comprised primarily of Italians who spoke no English and the project was under financed. Under duress, Cameron says he had a nightmare about an invisible robot hit man sent from the future to kill him, giving him the idea for The Terminator, which would later catapult his filming career.
After completing a screenplay for The Terminator, Cameron decided to sell it so that he could direct the movie. However, the production companies he contacted, while expressing interest in the project, were unwilling to let a first-time director make the movie. Finally, Cameron found a company called Hemdale Pictures, which was willing to let him direct. His soon-to-be-wife, Gale Anne Hurd, who had started her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, had previously worked with Cameron in Roger Corman's company and agreed to buy Cameron's screenplay for one dollar, on the condition that Cameron direct the film. Hurd was signed on as producer, and Cameron finally got his first break as director. Orion Pictures would distribute the film.
Initially, for the role of the Terminator, Cameron wanted someone who wasn't exceptionally muscular, and who could "blend into" a normal crowd. Lance Henriksen, who had starred in Piranha II: The Spawning, was considered for the titular role, but when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cameron first met over lunch to discuss Schwarzenegger playing the role of Kyle Reese, both came to the conclusion that the cyborg villain would be the more compelling role for the Austrian bodybuilder; Henriksen got the smaller part of LAPD detective Hal Vukovich and the role of Kyle Reese went to Michael Biehn. In addition, Linda Hamilton first appeared in this film in her iconic role of Sarah Connor, and later married Cameron.
The Terminator was a box office hit, breaking expectations by Orion Pictures executives that the film would be regarded as no more than a sci-fi film, and only last a week in theaters. The film was low-budget ($6.5 million), but it earned over $78 million domestically.
During the early 1980s, Cameron wrote three screenplays simultaneously: The Terminator, Aliens, and the first draft of Rambo: First Blood Part II. While Cameron would continue with The Terminator and with Aliens, Sylvester Stallone eventually took over the script of Rambo: First Blood Part II, creating a final draft which differed radically from Cameron's initial version. Cameron was credited for his screenplay in the film's final credits.
Cameron next began the sequel to Alien, the 1979 film by Ridley Scott. Cameron would name the sequel Aliens, and would again cast Sigourney Weaver in the iconic role of Ellen Ripley (the sole survivor from the first film). According to Cameron, the crew on Aliens was hostile to him, regarding him as a poor substitute for Ridley Scott. Cameron sought to show them The Terminator but the majority of the crew refused and remained skeptical of his direction throughout production. Despite this and other off screen problems (such as clashing with an uncooperative camera man and having to replace one of the lead actors - Michael Biehn of Terminator took James Remar's place as Corporal Hicks), Aliens became a box office success, and Sigourney Weaver received a nomination for Best Actress during the 1986 Academy Awards. In addition, the film and its lead actress made the cover of Time Magazine as a result of its breakthrough feminist themes about women in combat. Following the phenomenal success of the film, Cameron now had more freedom to make whatever project he wanted.
Cameron's next project stemmed from an idea that had come up during a high school biology class. The story of oil-rig workers who discover otherworldly underwater creatures became the basis of Cameron's screenplay for The Abyss, which cast Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Michael Biehn. Initially budgeted at $41 million U.S. (though the production ran considerably overbudget), it was considered to be one of the most expensive films of its time, and required cutting-edge effects technology. Because much of the film takes place underwater and the technology wasn't advanced enough to digitally create an underwater environment, Cameron chose to shoot much of the movie "reel-for-real", at depths of up to . For creation of the sets, the containment building of an unfinished nuclear power plant was converted, and two huge tanks were utilized. The main tank was filled with 7.5 million gallons of water, and the second 2.5 million gallons. There, the cast and crew would reside for much of the shooting.
The Abyss opened on August 9, 1989 with $9.3 million in 2nd place at the boxoffice behind Parenthood. It ultimately earned $54.5 million domestically, $35.5 million in foreign markets and a mostly lukewarm response from critics. Cameron would later release a special edition version of the film in spring of 1993, restoring deleted scenes, including the film's climax as it had been originally conceived. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Sound. It won for Best Visual Effects. After the release of The Abyss, Cameron founded his own production company called Lightstorm Entertainment, which produced all of his subsequent films.
After the success of The Terminator, there had always been talks about a sequel to continue the story of Sarah Connor and her struggle against machines from the future. Although Cameron had come up with a core idea for the sequel, and Schwarzenegger expressed interest in continuing the story, there were still problems regarding who had the rights to the story, as well as the logistics of the special effects needed to make the sequel. Finally, in mid-1990, Mario Kassar of Carolco Pictures secured the rights to the sequel, allowing Cameron to greenlight production of the film, now called Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
For the film, Linda Hamilton reprised her iconic role of Sarah Connor. In addition, Arnold Schwarzenegger also returned in his role as The Terminator, called the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, but this time as a protector. Unlike the Model 101, who is made of a metal endoskeleton, the new villain of the sequel, called the T-1000, was a more advanced Terminator made of liquid metal, and with polymorphic abilities. The T-1000 would also be much less bulky than the Model 101. For the role, Cameron cast Robert Patrick, who was a sharp contrast to Schwarzenegger. Cameron explained, "I wanted someone who was extremely fast and agile. If the T-800 is a human Panzer tank, then the T-1000 is a Porsche."
Cameron had originally wanted to incorporate this advanced-model Terminator into the first film, but the special effects at the time were not advanced enough. The ground-breaking effects used in The Abyss to digitally realize the water tentacle convinced Cameron that his liquid metal villain was now possible.
TriStar Pictures would distribute the film under a locked release date that was only about one year away from when shooting would begin. The movie, which was co-written by Cameron and his longtime friend, William Wisher, Jr., had to go from screenplay to finished film in just that amount of time. Like Cameron's previous film, it was one of the most expensive films of its era, with a budget of about $100 million. The biggest challenge of the movie was the special effects used in creating the T-1000. Nevertheless, the film was finished on time, and released to theaters on July 3, 1991.
Terminator 2, or T2, as it was abbreviated, broke box-office records (including the opening weekend record for an R-rated film), earning over $200 million domestically, and over $300 million overseas, and became the highest-grossing film of that year. It won four Academy Awards: Best Makeup, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects, and Best Visual Effects.
James Cameron announced Terminator 3 many times during the 1990s, but without coming out with any finished script. Kassar and Vajna purchased the rights to the Terminator franchise from a bankruptcy sale of Corolco's assets. The film would be eventually be made and released in July 2003, with Schwarzenegger returning and Jonathan Mostow directing.
Director James Cameron reunited with the main cast of Terminator 2, including Arnold Schwarzenegger as "T-800", Linda Hamilton as "Sarah Connor", Edward Furlong as "John Connor", and Robert Patrick as the "T-1000" to film T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, an attraction at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. It was released in 1996 and was a mini-sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The show is in two parts: a pre-show where a spokesperson talks about Cyberdyne and the main feature which has performers interacting with a 3-D movie.
Before the release of T2, Schwarzenegger came to Cameron with the idea of making a remake of the French comedy titled La Totale. Titled True Lies, with filming begun after T2's release, the story revolves around a secret-agent spy who leads a double life as a married man, whose wife believes he is a computer salesman. Schwarzenegger would be cast as the secret spy, named Harry Tasker, whose mission in the movie is to investigate and stop a plan by Arab terrorists to use nuclear weapons against the United States. Jamie Lee Curtis would play Schwarzenegger's onscreen wife, with Tom Arnold cast as the secret agent's sidekick.
Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment signed on with Twentieth Century Fox for production of True Lies. Made on a budget of $115 million and released in 1994, the film earned $146 million in North America, and $232 million abroad.
Cameron expressed interest in the famous sinking of the ship Titanic. He decided to script and film his next project based on this event. The picture revolved around a fictional romance story between two young lovers from different social classes who meet onboard the ship's maiden, and final, voyage. Before production began, he took dives to the bottom of the Atlantic and shot actual footage of the ship underwater, which he would insert into the final film.
For the film Titanic, Cameron cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and Billy Zane. Cameron's budget for the film reached about $200 million, and it became the most expensive movie ever made. Before its release, the film was widely ridiculed for its expense and protracted production schedule.
Released to theaters on December 19, 1997, Titanic opened with $28 million on its first weekend. The film's grosses escalated in the next several weeks. Titanic was one of very few modern movies to gross more in their second weekend than their first. Its gross increased from $28.6 million to $35.4 million from week 1 to week 2, an increase of 23.8%, unheard of for a wide release, and a testament to the appeal of the movie. This was especially noteworthy, considering that the film's running time of more than three hours limited the number of showings each theater could schedule. It held the #1 spot on the box-office charts for months, eventually grossing a total of over $600 million domestically and more than $1.8 billion worldwide. Titanic became the highest grossing film of all time. (Adjusting for inflation, the film brought in the sixth-highest domestic (U.S. only) gross of all time.) The CG visuals surrounding the sinking and destruction of the ship were considered spectacular. During the 1998 Academy Awards, the film won a record-tying 11 Oscars. Among them were Best Picture and Best Director.
Cameron had initially next planned to do a film of the comic book character Spider-Man, a project developed by Menahem Golan of Cannon Films. Disputes arose focusing on Golan's role in the Carolco project.
A screenplay dating back to 1989 exists with Cameron's name appended to it, indicating erroneously he worked with a series of writers on the project (John Brancato, Barry [sic: Barney] Cohen, Joseph Goldmari [sic: "Joseph Goldman", Menahem Golan's pen name] and Ted Newsom), but the script was identical to one presented to Columbia Pictures by Golan in 1988, where the project had been in development (Cameron never worked with these writers at all).
Subsequent to the delivery of this script to Carolco, Cameron presented a 45-page Spider-Man screen story to Carolco, which bore substantive similarities to a number of earlier screenplay drafts, particularly one written by Ethan Wiley (writer House and writer/director of House 2).
When Carolco went into bankruptcy, all previous "Spider-Man" scripts were acquired by MGM-UA, including the "Cameron material", i.e., both the multi-author screenplay and the later treatment credited solely to Cameron. MGM in turn sold the material to Columbia Pictures in exchange for Columbia dropping their plans to do an alternative James Bond series based on the Kevin McClory Bond material.
Columbia hired David Koepp to adapt Cameron's treatment into a screenplay, and Koepp's first draft is taken often word-for-word from Cameron's story, though later drafts were heavily rewritten by Koepp himself, Scott Rosenberg, Alvin Sargent (husband of producer Laura Ziskin), and (allegedly) Ivan Raimi, brother of director Sam Raimi.
Columbia preferred to credit David Koepp solely, and none of the scripts before or after his were ever examined by the Writers Guild of America, East to determine proper credit attribution. Cameron and other writers objected, but Columbia and the WGA prevailed. In its release in 2002, Spider-Man had its screenplay credited solely to Koepp.
Unable to make Spider-Man, Cameron moved to television and created the story of Max Guevara, a new superheroine. Dark Angel was influenced by cyberpunk, biopunk, current superhero genres, and third-wave feminism:
After the Sarah Connors and Ellen Ripleys of the eighties, the nineties weren't so kind to the superwoman format --Xena: Warrior Princess excepted. But it's a new millennium now, and while Charlie's Angels and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are kicking up a storm on movie screens, it's been down to James Cameron to bring empowered female warriors back to television screens. And tellingly, Cameron has done it by mixing the sober feminism of his The Terminator and Aliens characters with the sexed-up Girl Power of a Britney Spears concert. The result is Dark Angel, a weekly action series that's burning up the ratings on America's Fox Network and has recently premiered in the UK.
Co-produced with Charles H. Eglee, Dark Angel starred Jessica Alba as Max Guevara, a genetically enhanced transgenic super-soldier created by the super-secretive Manticore organization. It also starred Michael Weatherly as Logan Cale, and noted actor John Savage (of The Deer Hunter) as Colonel Donald Michael Lydecker. While a success in its first season, low ratings in the second led to its cancellation. Cameron himself directed the series finale, a two-hour episode wrapping up many of the series' loose ends.
Cameron's recent projects have included undersea documentaries on the Bismarck (Expedition: Bismarck, 2002) and the Titanic (Ghosts of the Abyss (2003, in IMAX 3D), and Tony Robinson's Titanic Adventure (2005)). He was a producer on the 2002 film Solaris, and narrated The Exodus Decoded.
Cameron is a leading advocate for stereoscopic digital 3-D films. In a 2003 interview about his IMAX 3D documentary Ghosts of the Abyss, he mentioned that he is "going to do everything in 3D now". He has made similar statements in other interviews. Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep (also an IMAX documentary) were shot in 3-D, as will his next projects, Avatar, The Dive, Sanctum and an adaptation of the manga series Battle Angel Alita. He is currently filming Avatar, his first film since 1997's Titanic. Cameron sees Avatar and Battle Angel Alita as a "three film cycle". See Avatar and Battle Angel below.
He is co-rewriting the screenplay for a high-definition 3-D live-action deep-sea-diving drama entitled James Cameron's Sanctum, to be produced by himself and directed by Gary Johnstone. Sanctum will have a relatively-low starting budget of about $20 million.
In addition, he plans to create a 3-D project about the first trip to Mars. ("I've been very interested in the Humans to Mars movement — the 'Mars Underground' — and I've done a tremendous amount of personal research for a novel, a miniseries, and a 3-D film.") He is on the science team for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory.
Cameron announced on February 26, 2007, that he, along with his director, Simcha Jacobovici, have documented the unearthing of the Talpiot Tomb, which is alleged to be the tomb of Jesus. Unearthed in 1980 by Israeli construction workers, the names on the tomb are claimed, by Cameron, to correlate with the names of Jesus and several individuals closely associated with him. Cameron further claims to have DNA tests, archaeological evidence, and Biblical studies to back up his claim. The documentary, named The Lost Tomb of Jesus, was broadcast on the Discovery Channel on March 4, 2007.
Marilyn Manson made a 3D video for the first single from their album Eat Me, Drink Me, "Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand)", which is an extract from a 3D horror movie which Manson will continue filming at the beginning of 2008 with James Cameron.
In June 2005, director Cameron was announced to be working on a project tentatively titled "Project 880" (now known to be Avatar) in parallel with another project, Battle Angel. Both movies were to be shot in 3D. By December, Cameron stated that he wanted to film Battle Angel first, followed by Avatar. However in February 2006, he switched goals for the two film projects and decided to film Avatar first. He mentioned that if both films are successful, he would be interested in seeing a trilogy being made for both.
Avatar, previously known as Project 880, has an estimated budget of $200 million, is a 3D film currently set for a December 18, 2009 release, and will mark his first feature film since 1997's Titanic. It will be composed almost entirely of computer-generated animation, using a more advanced version of the "performance capture" technique used by director Robert Zemeckis in The Polar Express. James Cameron wrote an 80 page scriptment for Avatar in 1995 and announced in 1996 that he would make the film after completing Titanic. In December 2006, Cameron explained that the delay in producing the film since the 1990s had been to wait until the technology necessary to create his project was advanced enough. The director is planning to create photo-realistic computer-generated characters through motion capture animation technology using his new virtual camera system. The film was originally scheduled to be released in May 2009 but was pushed back to December 2009 to allow more time for post production on the complex photorealistic CGI and to give more time for theatres worldwide to install 3D projectors.
James Cameron will also be writing, producing and directing Battle Angel, a live-action adaptation of the first three volumes of the manga series. Alita will be a CG character performed by an actress. Like Avatar, the film will be a mix of CG and live action. Filming will be made with the new digital 3D system Cameron has developed for Avatar. In January 2005, Cameron mentioned that the delay in making this film initially had been to wait until a sufficient number of theatres had installed 3D projectors. Pre-production on this film has been occurring since at least 2004-05. As with Avatar, the movie will be marketed and distributed by 20th Century Fox worldwide. Cameron is aiming for a PG-13 rating. Laeta Kalogridis wrote the original script but Cameron is re-writing the scipt.
The Dive - James Cameron is set to go back underwater with "The Dive" as he will direct the movie, which is based on the true love story of two divers, Cuban-born Francisco "Pipín" Ferreras and French-born Audrey Mestre. Screenwriter Dana Stevens has been hired to work on the script to "The Dive," with Cameron producing the movie along with his partners Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini. According to The Hollywood Reporter, James Cameron purchased the rights to Francisco Ferreras' life story as well as a story from Sports Illustrated on Ferreras.
Online news reports in 2002 quoted actress Eliza Dushku as saying there was going to be a sequel on "True Lies" reuniting the original cast and writer/director James Cameron. Cameron originally planned on making "True Lies 2" for sometime in 2002 (according to Moviehole.net) - but put his plans on hold once the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred in NYC, claiming that "in this day and age, terrorism isn't funny."
According to Hollywood.com James Cameron might possibly direct the adaption of his novel "Journey to Mars", "The Mummy: Ramses the Damned" based on the book by Anne Rice and Michael Turner's "Fathom". Also Cameron will play a major role as a producer for many upcoming projects.
In recognition of his contributions to underwater filming and remote vehicle technology, the University of Southampton awarded Cameron the honorary degree of Doctor of the University. Cameron received his degree in person at the graduation ceremony in July, 2004.
On June 3, 2008, it was announced that he would be inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
|Actor||Piranha II: The Spawning (1981)||The Terminator (1984)||Aliens (1986)||The Abyss (1989)||Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)||True Lies (1994)||Titanic (1997)||Avatar (2009)|
Most Cameron movies feature a man and a woman facing impossible odds and working together to achieve victory.
James Cameron was also credited as editor on the film Titanic for which he won an oscar along with two other editors.
Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand), a 3-D music video, was directed by Marilyn Manson using a 3-D system developed by James Cameron .
He also wrote early drafts of Spider-Man and X-Men and had input into Alien Nation. He is also credited with giving the Predator character the dreadlock-look and the creature's facial characteristics, after sharing ideas with Stan Winston about wanting to 'see an alien with mandibles'. After Cameron had finished Titanic, he contacted Peter Hyams and asked him to make a script based on a 200 page novella called Bright Angel Falling, written by Cameron himself. Hyams did so, but the plot was about a giant meteor on a collision course with earth, and after finding out about two other similar projects, Armageddon and Deep Impact, the movie never went into production.His screenplay for A Crowded Room, a thriller about a person suffering from DID, eventually became a casualty of the long pre-production nightmare. A heavily-rewritten screenplay to The Crowded Room is currently being produced under the direction of Joel Schumacher.
He has been described by one collaborator, author Orson Scott Card, as selfish and cruel. When asked about working with Cameron on the novelization of The Abyss, Card said the experience was "Hell on wheels. He was very nice to me, because I could afford to walk away. But he made everyone around him miserable, and his unkindness did nothing to improve the film in any way. Nor did it motivate people to work faster or better. And unless he changes his way of working with people, I hope he never directs anything of mine.
After working with Cameron on the set of Titanic, Kate Winslet decided she would not work with Cameron again unless she earned "a lot of money." She admitted Cameron was a nice man, but had too much of a temper.
Cameron has a famously explosive temper. The Independent in an editorial described his directing as tyrannical: "[James Cameron] is a nightmare to work with. Studios have come to fear his habit of straying way over schedule and over budget. He is notorious on set for his uncompromising and dictatorial manner, as well as his flaming temper.
Cameron is a member of the NASA Advisory Council and is working on the project to get cameras on the pending manned Mars mission.
In Entourage, Cameron appeared as himself as the director of the film Aquaman. Cameron's involvement in the project attracted Vincent Chase to the title role.
James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment Chooses MBS Media Campus in Manhattan Beach, CA, as Its New Production Home for Next Two Avatar Sequels
Jun 10, 2011; It was officially announced that James Cameron'sLightstorm Entertainment has signed a long term lease agreement to take more than...