“Avatar” flying scenes weren’t the only bone of contention between James Cameron and 20th Century Fox. The filmmaker revealed this in a new GQ interview that he cursed at a Fox executive who begged him to shorten “Avatar” months before the 2009 epic was due to hit theaters and break box office records around the world. The movie lasted 162 minutes. Cameron said the director saw a pre-release screening of “Avatar” and then approached him with a “clear cancer diagnosis.” The exec, who Cameron said would “remain unnamed because this is a really negative review,” pleaded for a shorter run.
“I said something I’ve never said to anyone else in the company,” Cameron said, revealing that he told the exec the following statement: “I think this movie is going to make all the damn money. And if it does it will be too late to love the movie Today is the time to love the movie So I’m not asking you to say something you don’t feel but just know I’ll always know that, no matter how complimentary you are about the movie in the future when it makes all the money.
“And that’s exactly what I said, in all caps, ALL THE MONEY, not some of the money, all the damn money,” Cameron continued. “I said, ‘You can’t come back to me and compliment the movie or sing along and say, ‘Look what we did together.’ You’re not going to succeed.’ At that point, that particular studio manager freaked out and he went over to me. And I told him to get the hell out of my office. And that was it.”
Cameron’s hot temper is known throughout Hollywood, and the director is well aware of it. “I think there was a period in the beginning where that reputation worked to my advantage,” he told GQ. “And it got this Paul Bunyan-esque, slightly larger than life quality. And then there was this legit moment where I looked like, ‘Okay, why am I getting so upset, and what does that fix?’ I’m not saying I don’t get angry from time to time. I mean, everyone, I think, is entitled to a bad day. But where before it might have been once every few weeks. Now it is twice a year.”
If the Fox executive thought the original “Avatar” was long, he would have passed out after discovering that Cameron’s sequel, the upcoming “Avatar: The Way of Water,” is 30 minutes longer, at three hours and ten minutes. Cameron told Magazine Total Film earlier this month that “The Way of Water” runs so much longer because there’s more focus on “relationship and emotion” compared to the first movie.
“The goal is to tell an extremely compelling story on an emotional basis,” said Cameron. “I would say the emphasis in the new movie is more on character, more on story, more on relationships, more on emotion. We didn’t spend as much time on relationships and emotions in the first movie as we did in the second movie, and it’s a longer movie, because there are more characters to serve. There is more story to service.”
Back in the summer, Cameron was already anticipating backlash over his three-plus hour ‘Avatar’ sequel, tellingly empire magazine, “Give me a fucking break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. This is the big social paradigm shift that needs to happen: it’s okay to get up and go pee.”
“Avatar: The Way of Water” opens in theaters on December 16 from Disney.