James Cameron is someone that is used to creating massive blockbuster films that shatter records and become iconic in short order. Just a glance at Cameron’s filmography shows that, as he’s the man responsible for “Aliens,” “Terminator” (and ‘T2’), “Titanic,” and “Avatar,” among others. But the filmmaker saw something happen that he hasn’t seen in quite some time — another filmmaker was able to beat him at the box office.
When “Avengers: Endgame” was able to take the worldwide box office crown earlier this year, Cameron was gracious and offered his congrats. And though you may think that there’s a bit of competition amongst the filmmaker and Marvel Studios for that top record, there really isn’t. As explained in a new interview with Deadline, Cameron was happy to see ‘Endgame’ beat his “Avatar” record. Not because he was sick of being #1, but instead, because it proved that people actually enjoy going to the theater.
“It gives me a lot of hope,” Cameron said. “‘Avengers: Endgame’ is demonstrable proof that people will still go to movie theaters. The thing that scared me most about making ‘Avatar 2’ and ‘Avatar 3’ was that the market might have shifted so much that it simply was no longer possible to get people that excited about going and sitting in a dark room with a bunch of strangers to watch something.”
“Will ‘Avatar 2’ and ‘3’ be able to create that kind of success in the zeitgeist? Who knows?” the filmmaker said. “We’re trying. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t, but the point is, it’s still possible. I’m happy to see it, as opposed to an alternate scenario where, with the rapid availability, custom-designed experience that everybody can create for themselves with streaming services and all the different platforms, that [theatrical potential] might not have existed anymore.”
However, even though Cameron seems to indicate that he’s not all that excited about the possibility of a streaming future, the truth is that he’s “just all about the big screen.”
He added, “Not that I wouldn’t do something for streaming where you can get into the characters in a different way but what I love the most to do is to create that completely kind of subsuming experience where you turn off your phone and you engage. You as an audience member engage for two hours or two and a half hours, whatever it is. And that still exists!”
The box office record that “Avatar” set back in 2009 lasted a full decade, but we’ll find out if “Avatar 2,” or any of the other 4 sequels Cameron has planned, has a chance to defeat ‘Endgame’ much sooner than a decade, as the second film is expected to hit theaters on December 17, 2021.