​James Cameron: 'Avatar 2' will leave you crying

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 13, 2022
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World-renowned director James Cameron told China.org.cn that people are likely to go to "Avatar: The Way of Water," the upcoming epic sci-fi sequel to "Avatar," for the beauty and the adventure and leave the theater crying due to being overcome by the emotion and power of great storytelling melded with the latest film technologies.

"I don't think people went to 'Titanic' and cried because the special effects were good, if you know what I mean. So we have tried to keep that same balance for this film," Cameron said.

As an avid explorer and scuba enthusiast who has undertaken deep ocean diving expeditions around the world, including reaching the bottom of the 10,898-meter-deep Mariana Trench in 2012, Cameron sees "The Way of Water" as the film that brings together his two great loves in life: "Film – telling stories with images – and the ocean. It was really natural. I'm kind of surprised now when I look at it, that we actually did the rainforest in the first 'Avatar' movie and the ocean second. If I had it to do over again, I'd do it the other way around."

The director said he had seen amazing things during his thousands of hours underwater in the ocean. He had been on scientific expeditions and learned much about the connection and the symbiosis of different creatures and their strategies for survival. One example is bioluminescence, which, along with other biological elements, was then incorporated into the movie.

To present the ocean in all its spectacle to the audience, Cameron and his team spent a significant amount of energy, time, and effort to create the visual effects and technology required to shoot and capture underwater scenes, as well as the visual effects to recreate water in a realistic way. 

"I would say it may be the hardest problem in visual effects," the director explained. "[The film's] called 'The Way of Water,' so we had to learn the way of water technically. But I'm also equally proud of how we solved creating realistic facial performances for these computer-generated characters. We wanted them to look 100% real and have 100% of the emotion that the actors created."

Cameron is also known for being the person to launch cinema's 3D era worldwide with the release of "Avatar" in 2009. At the time, people were curious about the novelty technique and flocked to see the film. Ever since, cinemas around the world, including China, have built more and more 3D theaters. But in recent years, people began to lose interest in 3D due to the poor-quality movies that utilized it.

"As you can imagine, we have very strong opinions in this area," the director responded when asked about the sticking power of 3D. "I think that movies that are shot on very long telephoto lenses and are cut very, very fast, make terrible 3D movies. I think you have to author wisely in 3D. You have to hold on shots longer."

The director remembered how when they released the first "Avatar" there were about 6,000 screens in the world, and around 2,500 or 3,000 of them were in China. Now, there are over 60,000 3D-enabled screens in China and over 120,000 3D screens worldwide. These figures are orders of magnitude more, so the access to 3D is higher than it's ever been, Cameron opined. 

"Interest in it is lower, but it's certainly not gone. When we re-released 'Avatar,' 97% of our ticket sales were in 3D. So I think people still want to go on that journey; they still want to have that special experience in the movie theater," he said.

For the China release, it is worth noting that the new "Avatar" movie will cooperate closely with China's self-developed advanced CINITY projection system, featuring 4K, 3D, ultra-high brightness, high dynamic range, a wide color gamut, and high frame rate, as well as immersive sound and other technologies. The Chinese premiere of "Avatar: The Way of Water" was held on Monday in Beijing in CINITY theaters, while Walt Disney Studios also held one screening on a CINITY system at the Walt Disney Grand Theatre in Shanghai Disney Resort's Disneytown. In addition, the original "Avatar" was re-released in China on Monday in 58 CINITY cinemas as a warm-up for the much-anticipated sequel that will land on Dec. 16. 

Cameron praised CINITY in the interview, saying the system's as good as anything else out there globally. "And we really want to see a lot of CINITY projectors out there in the world – not just in China – because they make our films look great."

Despite the emphasis on the 3D experience, Cameron was frank in saying that people that don't like 3D should still go to see "Avatar: The Way of Water" in a movie theater because he made sure it still looks gorgeous in 2D. "You know, the 3D is a smaller part. The movie itself – the performances, the settings, the visuals, the cinematography, the creatures – that's the greater part, that's 98% of it."

For Cameron, the film is not just a personal love story with the ocean. It's a personal story about his family and about being a parent, which are what he wants the audience to see. The film also has deeper connotations.

"The human characters from Earth, and the story, they represent the bad side of us that's greedy and that doesn't have a conscience about nature and that sort of thing, and the Na'vi represent the good side of us. So it's all a big metaphor for who we are and the things that pull us in different directions as a society," he said.

"The movie is a big request that we just pull it together, and we find a balance between those things, that we learn to live a technological life, that we keep the best of technology and science that allows us to understand the natural world and defeat disease and poverty and all those things, but that we also reconnect with nature and that we try to find a more balanced existence."

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