Cameron Talks Avatar Director’s Cut, Underwater Sequel(s), 3D Titanic

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In the lead-up to the theatrical release of Avatar, when I was surrounded by skeptics who told me I was nuts for liking a movie about 3D blue aliens, I talked to both producer Jon Landau and director James Cameron, and was left startled by their confidence. Five years into the project, they clearly believed in Avatar with all their heart.

So getting the chance to meet up with them again surrounding the DVD and Blu-ray release of Avatar, which hits stores today amidst a big Earth Day campaign that involves the planting of a million trees that can be adopted by Avatar fans, I was eager to ask both if they now felt vindicated. After all, they promised a cinematic revelation to some pretty skeptical observers, but then delivered the goods.

(More on Techland: Better Than Pandora: The Most Memorable Sci-Fi Planets)

“Unlike Titanic, where there was some obvious skepticism and they kind of unmercifully kicked us to the curb, I bear no animosity this time around,” Cameron told me. “This was no top-down studio hype machine, Avatar caught on because people deemed it worthy and then kept coming back.”

Landau told me pretty much the same – that he had been touring the world for years in the run-up to Avatar, trying to convince theaters to update their 3D technology, trying to bring partners on board. And he said when the movie finally opened, all his promises and guarantees came true. He didn’t feel as if he had said anything prior to the release that then didn’t turn out to be true once Avatar was in theaters.

The duo wouldn’t tell me much about what they were going to be working on in the immediate future. But all of the vague details about their long-term plans were plenty intriguing. Apparently in the build-up to Avatar, they were testing ways of converting Titanic footage – as well as footage from Terminator 2 – into 3D. And those tests were dazzling (I’ve also heard as much from DreamWorks’s Jeffrey Katzenberg). So plan on a 3D re-release of Titanic in 2012, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

(More on Techland: 12 Disaster Movies Better Than Titanic)

Both Cameron and Landau are also well aware that, due to the unexpected 3D traffic jam that resulted when Alice in Wonderland hit theaters, there are many people who ran out of time to see Avatar in a 3D environment. Or ran out of time to see it a second, third or fourth time. They alluded to an August re-release of Avatar, during a gap between other 3D titles, and Cameron says his special effects experts are rushing to complete around six minutes of additional footage to be added back in for a re-release. “And this will be good stuff, not people sitting around a table talking, but meaningful footage,” Cameron said.

I asked if he could give us a sense of what the footage might show. His answer: “No.”

What he would go on the record about is the prospect of an Avatar sequel. Or should we say sequels. I told the director that all of us here are at Techland are bickering as to whether a sequel would take place on Pandora, or if Cameron would have to jump to another planet in this solar system. “Well, we definitely want to move forward with another story, and there are other planets and moons in this system and they will be featured in subsequent Avatar movies – plural,” Cameron said. “I think the second film will incorporate additional environments of Pandora, particularly the ocean ecosystem. I want to explore all that is going on in Pandora’s oceans.”

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