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Ever since Avatar made a lot of money James Cameron has sort of made it a point to run around Hollywood talking as though he invented 3D. He didn’t though maybe he invented a few things which made it a little better. Still whenever Cameron talks it does seem like he has a very, very narrow view of how 3D should be used. To some extent that’s good, he’s against the horrible post-conversions like Clash of the Titans, but in some ways it’s also bad… since he also seems to be totally against anyone having any fun at all with it.
For instance yesterday, for really no reason at all, he came out against Piranha 3D and trashed it pretty resoundingly. This even though it’s one of the few 3D movies since Avatar that people seemed to genuinely enjoy and, in their own way, have a lot of fun with. Sure, Piranha’s ridiculous approach to 3D was completely different than Avatar’s, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Cameron has to come out and trash it, does it? It seemed especially strange in light of the movie’s unexpected critical success.
Well now Piranha 3D has struck back. Piranha producer Mark Canton has started circulating the following, vitriolic response to Cameron’s offhand comments trashing his film. Canton’s pissed and, yeah, maybe he has reason to be. Here’s what he thinks of what Cameron things. Dive in if you’re interested in wading through an old fashioned Hollywood bitchfight… in 3D!
Here’s Mark Canton:
As a producer in the entertainment industry, Jim Cameron's comments on VanityFair.com are very disappointing to me and the team that made Piranha 3D. Mr. Cameron, who singles himself out to be a visionary of movie-making, seems to have a small vision regarding any motion pictures that are not his own. It is amazing that in the movie-making process - which is certainly a team sport - that Cameron consistently celebrates himself out as though he is a team of one. His comments are ridiculous, self-serving and insulting to those of us who are not caught up in serving his ego and his rhetoric.
True. But that’s what James Cameron does. The amazing thing is that people still listen to him when talks like this. Good beginning. Let’s go on.
Jim, are you kidding or what? First of all, let’s start by you accepting the fact that you were the original director of PIRANHA 2 and you were fired. Shame on you for thinking that genre movies and the real maestros like Roger Corman and his collaborators are any less auteur or impactful in the history of cinema than you. Martin Scorcese made Boxcar Bertha at the beginning of his career. And Francis Ford Coppola made Dimentia 13 back in 1963. And those are just a few examples of the talented and successful filmmakers whose roots are in genre films. Who are you to impugn any genre film or its creators?
Some of that’s a bit inside but I’m still on board with where this guy is going. But here’s where he loses me....
My sense is that Mr. Cameron has never seen PIRANHA 3D...certainly not in a movie theatre with a real audience. Jim, we invite you to take that opportunity and experience the movie in a theatre full of fans - fans for whom this movie was always intended to entertain. Does Mr. Cameron have no idea of the painstaking efforts made by the talented young filmmaker Alex Aja and his team of collaborators? Clearly, and this one is a good bet, he has no clue as to how great and how much of a fun-filled experience the audiences who have seen the film in 3D have enjoyed. Those of us who have tried to stay in touch with the common movie audiences - the ones who really matter, the ones who actually still go to the theatre, put on the glasses, and eat the popcorn - take joy and pride in the fact that movies of all kinds, including PIRANHA 3D, have a place in filmmaking history - past, present and future. 3D unto itself is not a genre Jim, it is a tool that gives audiences an enhanced experience as they experience all kinds of movies.
It’s the old “see this movie with an audience” defense. It’s the defense most often used by a filmmaker who has just made a horrible movie. As if somehow seeing with a bunch of people will lower your IQ enough to make it more enjoyable. Personally I find these arguments kind of irrelevant and desperate, and since Piranha 3D actually recieved glowing reviews and praise from pretty much all quarters, well it didn’t really need this defense. Piranha 3D is better than this defense.
I believe Mr. Cameron did not see PIRANHA 3D either with any real audience or not at all. On opening weekend, I was in a Los Angeles theatre with a number of today’s great film makers including JJ Abrams, who actually had nothing short of the fabulous, fun 3D experience that the movie provides. I am fortunate enough to have worked on, and continue to work on, evolutionary movies in all formats from just simple good story telling, which still matters most of all, to CG movies to tent-pole size 3D movies, and genre 3D movies like PIRANHA 3D. What it comes down to, Jim, is - that like most things in life - size doesn’t really matter. Not everyone has the advantage of having endless amounts of money to play in their sandbox and to take ten years using other people’s money to make and market a film….like you do. Why can’t you just count your blessings? Why do you have to drop Marty Scorsese’s or Tim Burton’s names, both gentlemen who I have personally worked with, and who have enjoyed great joy and success with movies of all genres and sizes well before the advent of modern 3D? Then as now, they were like kids in a candy store recognizing, far beyond your imagination, the possibilities of storytelling and originality.
I do sort of believe that Cameron hasn’t actually seen the movie though. I mean, why would he? He’s James Cameron. How many of the 3D movies released this year has he actually seen? I’d bet almost none of them and especially not a little movie like Piranha 3D.
For the record, before you just totally dismiss PIRANHA 3D and all, in your opinion, worthless genre movies that actually undoubtedly gave you the ability to start your career, you should know that PIRANHA 3D had an 82% "fresh" (positive) ratting on Rotten Tomatoes on opening day - a web site that all the studios, filmmakers and the public use as a barometer of what makes a quality film. We know that PIRANHA 3D has not achieved a boxoffice that is on the level of many of Mr. Cameron's successes. To date, PIRANHA 3D has earned over $30 million around the globe with #1 openings in several countries. And, as the "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes indicates, critics and many, many others have embraced and celebrated PIRANHA 3D for the fun and entertaining - and even smart - movie-going experience that it is.
This is the defense he should have lead with. Cameron was talking out of his ass. Alright here’s the rest of it. Read on if you’ve got the stomach for the fight.
Let’s just keep this in mind Jim….you did not invent 3D. You were fortunate that others inspired you to take it further. The simple truth is that I had nothing but good things to say about AVATAR and my own experience since I actually saw it and didn’t damn someone else’s talent publicly in order to disassociate myself from my origins in the business from which we are all very fortunate. To be honest, I found the 3D in AVATAR to be inconsistent and while ground breaking in many respects, sometimes I thought it overwhelmed the storytelling. Technology aside, I wish AVATAR had been more original in its storytelling.
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