After James Camerons avatar Released in 2009 and grossing $2.7 billion, the director found the deepest point in all of Earth’s oceans and over time dove there. When Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a few hundred miles off the southwest coast of Guam, in March 2012, he became the first person in history to descend the 6.8-mile distance solo and one of only a few people to do so this did ever go so deep. Since then, others have followed – most prominently a private equity titan and former Naval Reserve intelligence officer-turned-explorer named Victor Vescovo – but Cameron is adamant none have surpassed him. Vescovo, Cameron told me, “claimed he went deeper, but you can’t. So basically he just does shit.”
As people sometimes do when responding to Cameron’s stories, Vescovo disagrees—”I have a different scientific perspective,” he told me diplomatically—but even he’s a fan of Cameron’s films. Like Cameron, Vescovo has made several dives to the wreck of the titanic, and when he got back from one of them, he emailed Cameron. “I said, ‘I’ve been watching titanic In the titanic‘ And he actually said, ‘Yeah, but me Titanic made In the titanic‘ ”
It is perhaps a testament to Cameron’s talent as a filmmaker that even his most determined rivals will concede that Cameron has written and directed some of the highest-grossing films of all time. He could rightly be called the father of the modern action film, which he helped invent with his debut. the terminator, and then reinvent with his second, Foreigner; It would be fair to add that he has directed two of the three highest-grossing films in history, in avatar (number one) and titanic (Number three). But he’s also a scientist – a camera he helped design served as a model for one currently on Mars and attached to the Mars rover – and an adventurer, rather than in the amateurish billionaire sense; When Cameron sets his mind to something, it gets done. “The man was born with the instincts and skills of an explorer,” Daniel Goldin, the former head of NASA, told me. At times, Cameron seems like a man looking for a problem to solve or a deadly experience to survive, but he insists that the challenges he takes on have meaning. “There are a lot of dangerous things that I won’t approach because they’re dangerous, but they have a random factor,” Cameron said. “Wildwater Rafting? Fuck it all.”
Disney comes out in December Avatar: The Way of Water. It is the first feature film Cameron has directed in 13 years and the first of four planned avatar sequels. The film, Cameron says, is about family: Many of the main characters from the first film are back, but older and with children to care for. “What do two characters who are warriors who take risks and aren’t afraid do when they have kids and still have the epic fight?” Cameron, a father of five, posits. “Your instinct is to be fearless and do crazy things. Jump off cliffs, bombard into the middle of an enemy armada, but you’ve got kids. What does that look like in a family environment?” Among other things, Cameron said: The way of the water would be a friendly but pointed rebuke to the comic blockbusters now struggling with Cameron’s films at the box office: “I consciously thought, ok, all these superheroes, they never have children. You never really have to deal with the real things that hold you down and give you feet of clay in the real world.” Sigourney Weaver, who starred in the first avatar as a human scientist and returns for The way of the water as a Na’vi teenager, told me that the parallels between the director’s life and the lives of his characters were anything but coincidental: “Jim loves his family so much, and I feel that love in our film. It’s a more personal film than ever before.”
The original avatar — a colorful dream from a movie set in the year 2154 about an ex-marine who falls in love with a blue, ten-foot-tall princess on an alien moon, Pandora, who is being attacked and robbed of his natural resources — required the Inventing dozens of new technologies, from the cameras Cameron shot with to the digital effects he used to turn human actors into animated creatures, the language those creatures spoke in the film. To the the way of the water, Cameron told me he and his team started all over again. They needed new cameras that could record underwater and a motion capture system that could collect separate footage from above and below the water and integrate it into a unified virtual image. They needed new algorithms, new AI, to translate what Cameron shot into what you see.