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James Cameron

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Title: James Cameron  
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Subject: Peter Jackson, Alfonso Cuarón, List of awards and nominations received by Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Saturn Award for Best Writing
Collection: 1954 Births, Best Director Academy Award Winners, Best Director Empire Award Winners, Best Director Golden Globe Winners, Best Film Editing Academy Award Winners, Canadian Atheists, Canadian Emigrants to the United States, Canadian Expatriate Film Directors in the United States, Canadian Film Directors, Canadian Film Editors, Canadian Film Producers, Canadian Inventors, Canadian People of Scottish Descent, Canadian Screenwriters, Canadian Television Directors, Canadian Television Producers, Canadian Television Writers, Directors Guild of America Award Winners, English-Language Film Directors, Fantasy Film Directors, Film Directors from California, Golden Globe Award Winning Producers, James Cameron, Living People, New Zealand People of Canadian Descent, People from Kapuskasing, People from Niagara Falls, Ontario, People from Orange County, California, Producers Who Won the Best Picture Academy Award, Science Fiction Film Directors, Science Fiction Hall of Fame Inductees, Special Effects People
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James Cameron

nathan_Mostow" id="whe_lnki_128" title="Jonathan Mostow">Jonathan Mostow directed the film and Schwarzenegger returned as the Terminator.

Cameron reunited with the main cast of Terminator 2 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 prequel segment in which a spokesperson talks about Cyberdyne, and a main feature, in which the performers interact with a 3-D movie.

True Lies (1994)

Before the release of T2, Schwarzenegger came to Cameron with the idea of remaking the French comedy La Totale! Titled True Lies, with filming beginning 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 was cast as Harry Tasker, a spy charged with stopping a plan by a terrorist to use nuclear weapons against the United States. Jamie Lee Curtis and Eliza Dushku played the character's family, and Tom Arnold the 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. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.

Strange Days (1995)

American science fiction action thriller film directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Co-written and produced by her ex-husband James Cameron and co-written by Jay Cocks,

Titanic (1997)

Cameron expressed interest in the famous sinking of the ship RMS 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 on board. Before production began, he took dives to the bottom of the Atlantic and shot actual footage of the ship underwater, which he inserted into the final film. Much of the film's dialogue was also written during these dives.

Subsequently, Cameron cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Victor Garber, Danny Nucci, David Warner, Suzy Amis, and Bill Paxton as the film's principal cast. Cameron's budget for the film reached atime. Before its release, the film was widely ridiculed for its expense and protracted production schedule.

Released to theaters on December 19, 1997, Titanic grossed less in its first weekend ($28.6 million) than in its second ($35.4 million), an increase of 23.8%. This is unheard of for a widely released film, which is a testament to the movie's appeal. 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 No. 1 spot on the box-office charts for months, eventually grossing a total of $600.8 million in the United States and Canada and more than $1.84 billion worldwide. Titanic became the highest-grossing film of all time, both worldwide and in the United States and Canada, and was also the first film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide. It remained the highest-grossing film since 1998, until Cameron's 2009 film Avatar surpassed its gross in 2010.[35]

The CG visuals surrounding the sinking and destruction of the ship were considered spectacular.[36] Despite criticism during production of the film, it received a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations (tied with All About Eve) at the 1998 Academy Awards. It won 11 Oscars (also tying the record for most Oscar wins with Ben-Hur and later The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Original Song.[37] Upon receiving the Best Director Oscar, Cameron exclaimed, "I'm king of the world!", in reference to one of the main characters' lines from the film. After receiving the Best Picture Oscar along with Jon Landau, Cameron asked for a moment of silence for the 1,500 men, women, and children who died when the ship sank.

In March 2010, Cameron revealed that Titanic would be re-released in 3D in April 2012, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the real ship.[38] On March 27, 2012, Cameron attended the world première with Kate Winslet at the Royal Albert Hall in London.[39] Following the re-release, Titanic's domestic total was pushed to $658.6 million and more than $2.18 billion worldwide. It became the second film to gross more than $2 billion worldwide (the first being Avatar).

Spider-Man and Dark Angel (2000–2002)

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. 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,[40] though later drafts were heavily rewritten by Koepp himself, Scott Rosenberg, and Alvin Sargent. 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.[41]

Unable to make Spider-Man, Cameron moved to television and created The Terminator and Aliens characters with the sexed-up Girl Power of a Britney Spears concert."[42] 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.

Documentaries (2002–2012)

Cameron in February 2010

In 1998 James and John David Cameron formed a digital media company,, which became Earthship Productions.[43] The company produced live multimedia documentaries from the depths of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. With Earthship Productions, John 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)).[44] He was a producer on the 2002 film Solaris, and narrated The Exodus Decoded.

Cameron is an advocate for stereoscopic digital 3-D films. In a 2003 interview about his IMAX 2D documentary Ghosts of the Abyss, he mentioned that he is "going to do everything in 3D now".[45] He has made similar statements in other interviews. Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep (also an IMAX documentary) were both shot in 3-D and released by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media, and Cameron did the same for his new project, Avatar for 20th Century Fox & Sony Pictures' Columbia Pictures. He intends to use the same technology for The Dive, Sanctum and an adaptation of the manga series Battle Angel Alita.

Cameron was the founder and CEO of Digital Domain, a visual-effects production and technology company.

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.")[46] He is on the science team for the 2011 Mars Science Laboratory.[47]

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 1981 by Israeli construction workers, the names on the tomb are claimed, in the documentary, to correlate with the names of Jesus and several individuals closely associated with him. The documentary, named The Lost Tomb of Jesus, was broadcast on the Discovery Channel on March 4, 2007.

As a National Geographic explorer-in-residence,[48] Cameron re-investigated the sinking of the Titanic with eight experts in 2012. The investigation was featured in the TV documentary special Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron, which premiered on April 8 on the National Geographic Channel.[49] In the conclusion of the analysis, the consensus revised the CGI animation of the sinking conceived in 1995.[50][51]

Avatar (2009)

Cameron promoting Avatar during the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con

In June 2005, 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 (an adaptation of the manga series Battle Angel Alita).[52] 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 were successful, he would be interested in seeing a trilogy being made for both.[53]

Avatar had an estimated budget of over $300 million and was released on December 18, 2009.[54] This marked his first feature film since 1997's Titanic. It is 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.[55] James Cameron had written an 80-page scriptment for Avatar in 1995[56] 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, since at the time no studio would finance for the development of the visual effects.[57] 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 CGI and to give more time for theatres worldwide to install 3D projectors.[58] Cameron originally intended Avatar to be 3D-only.[59]

Avatar broke several box office records during its initial theatrical run. It grossed $749.7 million in the United States and Canada and more than $2.74 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time in the United States and Canada, surpassing Cameron's Titanic.[60] Avatar also became the first movie to ever earn more than $2 billion worldwide. Including revenue from the re-release of Avatar featuring extended footage, it grossed $760.5 million in the U.S. and Canada and more than $2.78 billion worldwide. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director,[61] and won three for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.

Avatar's success made Cameron the highest earner in Hollywood for 2010, netting him $257 million as reported by Vanity Fair.[62]

Disney announced in September 2011 that it would adapt James Cameron's film Avatar into Avatar Land,[63] a themed area at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Sanctum (2011)

Cameron served as the executive producer of Sanctum, a film detailing the expedition of a team of underwater cave divers who find themselves trapped in a cave, their exit blocked and with no known way to reach the surface either in person or by radio contact.

Planned films

In August 2013, Cameron announced his intention to film three sequels to Avatar simultaneously, to be released in December 2016, 2017 and 2018.[64] His original plans were to do Battle Angel next, but he changed his mind due to Avatar's success; "My intention when I made Avatar was to do Battle Angel next. However, the positive feedback for Avatar and the support of the message of Avatar, encouraged me to do more of those films."[65] Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment bought the film rights to the Taylor Stevens novel The Informationist in October 2012 with plans for Cameron to direct it. A screenwriter will be hired to adapt the novel while Cameron works on the Avatar sequels.[66] Another project Cameron has announced is a personal commitment to shoot a film on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as told through the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a man who survived both attacks. Cameron met with Yamaguchi just days before he died in 2010.[67]


In 2012, Cameron and his wife and children adopted a vegan diet.[68][69] Cameron explains that "By changing what you eat, you will change the entire contract between the human species and the natural world".[70]

When asked what’s the best thing an individual can do to fight climate change, Cameron said, “Stop eating animals.”

This may surprise you, because it surprised me when I found out, but the single biggest thing that an individual can do to combat climate change is to stop eating animals. Because of the huge, huge carbon footprint of animal agriculture. I was shocked to find out that animal agriculture directly or indirectly accounts for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, compared to all transportation – every ship, car, truck, plane on the planet only accounts for 13%. Less than animal agriculture. So most people think that buying a Prius is the answer, and it’s certainly not wrong, but it’s not the biggest agent of climate change.[19]


Cameron receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 2009

Cameron received the inaugural Bradbury Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1992 for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Avatar would be a finalist in 2010).[71]

Cameron did not receive any major mainstream filmmaking awards prior to Titanic. For Titanic he won several including Academy Awards for Best Picture (shared with Jon Landau), Best Director and Best Film Editing (shared with Conrad Buff and Richard A. Harris). Cameron is one of the few filmmakers to win three Oscars in a single evening and Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director.

In recognition of "a distinguished career as a Canadian filmmaker", Carleton University, Ottawa, awarded Cameron the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts on June 13, 1998. Cameron accepted the degree in person and gave the Convocation Address.

He also received an honorary doctorate in October 1998 from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, for his accomplishments in the international film industry.

In 1998, Cameron attended convocation to receive an honorary doctorate of Laws from Ryerson University, Toronto. The university awards its highest honor to those who have made extraordinary contributions in Canada, or internationally.

In 1999, Cameron received the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree[72] from California State University, Fullerton, where he had been a student in the 1970s. He received the degree at the university's annual Commencement exercises that year, where he gave the keynote speech.

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 did not attend the Engineering Sciences graduation ceremony in July 2004 where the degree was awarded but instead received it in person at the National Oceanography Centre.[73]

On June 3, 2008, it was announced that he would be inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.[74] On December 18, 2009, the same day Avatar was released worldwide, Cameron received the 2,396th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[75] After the release of Avatar, on February 28, 2010, Cameron was also honored with a Visual Effects Society (VES) Lifetime Achievement Award.

For Avatar, Cameron won numerous awards as well, including: Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama (shared with Jon Landau) and Best Director. He was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing (shared with John Refoua and Stephen E. Rivkin).[76] However, Cameron and Avatar lost to his former wife[77] Kathryn Bigelow and her film, The Hurt Locker.

On September 24, 2010, James Cameron was named Number 1 in The 2010 Guardian Film Power 100 list.[78] In a list compiled by the British magazine New Statesman in September 2010, he was listed 30th in the list of "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures 2010".[79]

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Cameron in June 2012.[80]


Cameron has received numerous awards; mainly for Titanic and Avatar.


Cameron often casts certain actors more than once in his films. Cameron has consistently worked with Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

1 Although Wisher Jr. has written some of Cameron's works, he is listed in the above table as an actor.
2 His reprised role of Reese was cut from the theatrical release, but restored in the DVD's Special Edition Version.

Recurring themes

Cameron's films have recurring themes and subtexts. These include the conflicts between humanity and technology,[82] the dangers of corporate greed,[83] strong female characters,[84] and a strong romance subplot.[84] In almost all films, the main characters usually get into dramatic crisis situations with significant threats to their own life or even the threat of an impending apocalypse. While The Abyss dealt with deep sea exploration (shot in an unfinished nuclear reactor filled with water) and Cameron himself became an expert in the field of deep-sea wreckage exploration, exploring the wreckage of the Titanic and the Bismarck.[85] Cameron will return to this theme with The Dive, shooting from a minisub.


Cameron has contributed to many projects as a writer, director, and producer, or as a combination of the three.

Cameron's first film was the 1978 science fiction short film Xenogenesis, which he directed, wrote and produced. Cameron's films have grossed a total of over $7 billion worldwide.

In addition to works of fiction, Cameron has directed and appeared in several documentaries including Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep. He also contributed to a number of television series including Dark Angel and Entourage. He plans to shoot a small drama film after the Avatar trilogy, just to prove that 3D works even for domestic dramas.[86]

Personal life

Cameron has been married five times to the following spouses: Sharon Williams (1978–1984), Gale Anne Hurd (1985–1989), director Kathryn Bigelow (1989–1991), Linda Hamilton (1997–1999, daughter Josephine born in 1993), and Suzy Amis (2000–present). Cameron had dated Hamilton since 1991. Eight months after the marriage, however, they separated, and within days of Cameron's Oscar victory with Titanic, the couple announced their divorce. As part of the divorce settlement, Cameron was ordered to pay Hamilton $50 million.[87] Hamilton later revealed that the reason for their divorce was not only Cameron's blind devotion to his work to the exclusion of almost everything else, but also that he had been having an affair with Suzy Amis, an actress he cast as Lizzy Calvert in Titanic.[88] He married Amis in 2000, and they have one son and two daughters. Cameron lives in New Zealand, a country he fell in love with when he was filming Avatar.[89] Hurd was the producer of Cameron's The Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss, and the executive producer of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Hamilton played the role of Sarah Connor in both Terminator films. Amis played the part of Lizzy Calvert, Rose's granddaughter, in Titanic. Both Cameron (Avatar) and Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) were nominated for the Oscar, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA Award for Best Director for films released in 2009. Cameron won the Golden Globe, while Bigelow won the Oscar and the BAFTA for Best Director, becoming the first woman to win either. [90] [91]

Cameron is a member of the colonization of Mars.[93][94]

Cameron became an expert on deep-sea exploration in conjunction with his research and underwater filming for The Abyss (1989) and Titanic (1997).[95] In June 2010, Cameron met in Washington with the EPA to discuss possible solutions to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill. Later that week at the All Things Digital Conference, he attracted some notoriety when he stated, "Over the last few weeks I've watched...and been thinking, 'Those morons don't know what they're doing'." Reportedly, Cameron had offered BP help to plug the oil well, but it declined.[95][96][97] The oil spill was eventually stopped using techniques similar to those Cameron recommended.[98]

Although Cameron had resided in the United States since 1971, he remains a Canadian citizen. Cameron applied for American citizenship but withdrew his application after [112]


In 1999, Cameron was labeled selfish and cruel by one collaborator, author Orson Scott Card, who had been hired a decade earlier to work 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. In fact, now that this is in print, I can fairly guarantee that he will never direct anything of mine. Life is too short to collaborate with selfish, cruel people."[113] He later alluded to Cameron in his review of Me and Orson Welles, where he described witnessing a famous director chew out an assistant for his own error.[114]

After working with Cameron on Titanic, Kate Winslet decided she would not work with Cameron again unless she earned "a lot of money". She said that Cameron was a nice man, but she found his temper difficult to deal with.[115] In an editorial, the British newspaper The Independent said that 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."[115]

Sam Worthington, who worked with Cameron, stated on The Jay Leno Show that Cameron had very high expectations from everyone: he would use a nail gun to nail the film crew's cell phones to a wall above an exit door in retaliation for unwanted ringing during production.[116] Other actors, such as Bill Paxton and Sigourney Weaver, have praised Cameron's perfectionism. Weaver said of Cameron: "He really does want us to risk our lives and limbs for the shot, but he doesn't mind risking his own."[117] Michael Biehn has also praised Cameron, claiming "Jim is a really passionate person. He cares more about his movies than other directors care about their movies", but added "I’ve never seen him yell at anybody." However, Biehn did claim Cameron is "not real sensitive when it comes to actors."[118]

Composer James Horner refused to work with Cameron for a decade following their strained working relationship on 1986's Aliens; they eventually settled their differences, and Horner went on to score both Titanic and Avatar.

An episode of South Park from its 16th season depicted the director as being self-obsessed. He is seen going deep sea diving while playing his own theme song and appearing oblivious to his overtly bored ship's crew. However, the episode also credits him for "raising the bar" on entertainment.

During the 70th Golden Globe Awards ceremony, co-host Amy Poehler prompted laughter and audible gasps[119] when she joked about a controversy around the depiction of torture in Zero Dark Thirty, a film co-produced and directed by Cameron's ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow. According to Poehler, "when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron."[119]

In 2014, Cameron was the keynote speaker at the first annual Fame and Philanthropy, a charity fundraiser which raised money for several high profile celebrity charities. Cameron was one of several guest speakers at the event along with Charlize Theron and Halle Berry. [120]

See also


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Further reading

  • Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and Stephen McVeigh, eds., The Films of James Cameron: Critical Essays. McFarland & Company. 2011.
  • Keegan, Rebecca Winters (2009), The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron, Crown Publishers,  
  • Parisi, Paula (1999), Titanic and the Making of James Cameron: The Inside Story of the Three-Year Adventure That Rewrote Motion Picture History, Newmarket Press,  

External links

Cameron's directorial style has provided great influence throughout the film industry.


On March 7, 2012, Cameron took the Deepsea Challenger submersible to the bottom of the New Britain Trench in a five-mile-deep solo dive.[104] On March 26, 2012, Cameron reached the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Mariana Trench.[11] He spent more than three hours exploring the ocean floor before returning to the surface.[105] Cameron is the first person to accomplish the trip solo.[11] He was preceded by unmanned dives in 1995 and 2009 and by Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh, who were the first men to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench aboard the Bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960.[106] Cameron is making a three-dimensional film of his dive.[107] During his dive to the Challenger Deep, the data he collected resulted in interesting new finds in the field of marine biology, including new species of sea cucumber, squid worm, and giant single-celled amoeba, which are exciting finds due to the harshness of the environment.[108]

Deep sea dives

Early in 2014, Cameron purchased the Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery in Courtenay, BC, at a price of $2.7 million, as well as a number of other businesses in the area, including cattle ranching operations, to pursue his passion for sustainable agribusiness.[102] Three months prior, Cameron made the local news when he was caught on camera purchasing quality wine at a local liquor store.[103]

In June 2013, British artist Roger Dean filed a legal action at a court in New York against Cameron. Dean accused Cameron of "wilful and deliberate copying, dissemination and exploitation" of his original images, relating to Cameron's 2009 film Avatar and sought damages of $50m.[101]

Cameron calls himself "Converted Agnostic", and says "I've sworn off agnosticism, which I now call cowardly atheism". As a child he described the Lord's Prayer as being a "tribal chant".[100]


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