Even in the midst of what may or may not be a backlash against 3D -- "may" if you wasted your hard earned money on a poor up-conversion; "may not" if you happen to be James Cameron -- the aforementioned James Cameron still stands defiant. To be fair, he has the right to do so: 'Avatar' may have spawned clones of rip-off 3D suitors, but that's certainly not Cameron's fault, and no one has questioned Cameron's painstaking attention to 3D detail. James Cameron was presented with the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Leadership Award in New York City on Monday night, and the Oscar-winning director spoke to Moviefone one-on-one about the 3D backlash, his rerelease of 'Titanic' in 3D in April of 2012 (more on that here), and why the success of 'Titanic' just may lead to 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' and 'Aliens' getting the 3D treatment as well.
It seems like with every blockbuster 3D movie, the reports are that more and more people are opting for the 2D version. This happened with 'Pirates 4.' After the good will of 'Avatar,' how do you win back an audience that feels tricked?
I don't think that's the case at all. I don't think the audience feels tricked, I think the audience occasionally feels like they're not getting their money's worth when they go to see a film where they're paying for a premium ticket price and it's sort of sloppily converted to 3D and it's not delivering. And that usually happens because the studio imposes 3D on the filmmaker and the filmmaker says, "Look I'm making the movie, you all do with it what you want." Which is really a bad attitude because if you're not shooting for 3D, it's not going to look as good. So I'm not in favor of conversion. I think that's potentially a way to do minor damage to the marketplace.
So is there a backlash?
I think this whole story is trumped up by the media. You know, they built it up, it's this fantastic new thing, and now we're going to tear it down.
You seem frustrated by this. Are you frustrated by this story?
No, no. I'm not frustrated at all. I think it's a natural course of the evolution of any new thing. But I think people need to understand and remember: 3D revenues for movies have grown 40 percent a year, year over year, for three years. And are projected to do that next year. This business is not going away. You're not going to put that toothpaste back in the tube. We've gone from one percent of the market four years ago to 21 percent of movie revenues now. So, I think it's being very broadly accepted on a global basis -- much more so internationally than domestically. So, 3D is going to be with us forever. The question is: When does it reach the same levels of broadcast? We've got about 110 camera systems right now that are out all of the time -- the trucks are out all of the time. We've done 160 sporting events and it goes up 20 of new ones every couple of months. So that's now starting to explode.
You mentioned that you're not in favor of conversion, but you are converting 'Titanic.' Was that process more difficult than you expected? Are you happy with the results?
I expected it to be really hard to get high quality results. And that proved to be accurate. Including the mastering of the film and the 3D conversion, we're spending 18 million dollars in one year -- and it will barely be done in time, in February -- to do it up to a standard equal to having shot it in 3D. Which, of course, would have been my first choice. Short of having a time machine available, I don't know a way to do that.
Will we see other films from the James Cameron catalog converted?
We are exploring a new market here for classic library titles that are much beloved films that may or may not have a new life in the theatrical marketplace. We're just going to have to see. I mean, do the numbers support the idea of a 'Terminator 2' or 'Aliens'? I don't know, those would be cool movies to convert. But I don't know -- we have to see how much we make off of 'Titanic.'
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