James Cameron Says He Used To Be ‘Defensive’ About Making Expensive Movies Like Titanic And Avatar 2. Why He’s Not Now

Sam Worthington's Jake Sully Na'vi in Avatar: The Way Of Water 2022 film
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

James Cameron has created some of the biggest box office successes of all time. When Avatar became the highest grossing movie of all-time, the first time, it achieved that honor by surpassing Cameron’s own Titianic. However, while Cameron’s movies tend to make a lot of money, that’s almost by necessity, because they also tend to cost a lot of money. Cameron says he used to get defensive about the costs of his productions, but now he doesn’t because he knows he’s putting the money to good use.

Speaking with GQ, James Cameron says that, if he thinks there’s a good enough reason to it, he would argue in favor of spending $1 billion on a movie. His argument is that, quite simply, he doesn't waste the money. Whatever he’s spending it’s because he thinks it’s needed to make the movie work. Cameron explains…

And I used to be really defensive about that because it was always the first thing anybody would mention. And now I’m like, if I can make a business case to spend a billion dollars on a movie, I will fucking do it. Do you want to know why? Because we don’t put it all on a pile and light it on fire. We give it to people.

And it has to be said, that when James Cameron gives people what he thinks they want on the screen, the people tend to show up. Whether it’s the sinking of the Titanic or an entire alien world, displayed in state of the art 3D, Cameron gets a return on the investment that the studio makes. And thanks to Cameron's track record of success, when he walks into a studio and tells them he wants to make four Avatar sequels, with the first two being shot simultaneously, it doesn’t appear there were significant hurdles to making that happen.

At the end of the day, the studio isn’t going to care about lending out a lot of money as long as they believe they’re going to get a lot more money back. And Cameron says that, quite simply, his films are a good investment. It’s just another business transaction. Cameron continues…

If the studio agrees and thinks it’s a good investment, as opposed to buying an oil lease off of the north of Scotland, which somebody would think was a good investment, why not do it?

Making movies is a strange balance between art and commerce but James Cameron seems to have found the way to make it all work. He understands that making movies is a business, and that he needs to do right by those that are providing the money, but doing that allows him to tell the stories and create the crowd pleasing spectacles that he wants to make. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.