James Cameron on 3D and ‘The Lion King’: ‘All It Takes Is Greed’

Director tells TheWrap that 3D conversion still has huge commercial potential as long as filmmakers and studios don’t keep trying to rush it

Last weekend’s surprising box office success of Disney's “The Lion King 3D”  has re-awakened studios to the power of 3D, James Cameron said Wednesday.

In an interview with TheWrap, Cameron said that whatever doubts there were amongst the two studios re-releasing "Titanic" in 3D have "pretty much evaporated." Paramount and Fox are planning to release Cameron's 3D-converted "Titanic" next April. "Lion King 3D" took in $30.2 million this past weekend.

"They see this potential," the filmmaker said in an interview at the 3D Entertainment Summit in Hollywood. "All it takes is a little healthy greed. And doubts tend to go away.”

Cameron said converting movies from 2D to 3D — the way he’s converting his blockbuster "Titanic" — is time-consuming when done right. But otherwise, he said, it’s not really 3D.

Also read: James Cameron Wants to Certify 3D Filmmakers

Also read: Disney Opening 'Avatar Land' at Theme Park in Florida

“Two-and-a-half D is not worth the premium ticket price,” he said.

Then Cameron, at heart a techie, got technical.

In a conversion, he said, objects in the background move farther and farther apart.

“The further apart they move, the more information is missing in the background behind them that has to be painted in,” he said.

He said that the “Titanic” conversion is taking a year because it needs to take that long.

“I said I’m not doing it in less than a year,” he said, explaining that he worries about ensuring Leonardo DiCaprio’s face isn’t flat in any particular shot.

Quickie conversions handle that poorly.

But when it’s done right, he said, “it’s gorgeous.”

Doing it right, he said, could make “those legacy library titles that we love, whether they are ‘Jaws,’ ‘Star Wars,’ name your favorite film, can and should be done — but they have to be done right and the filmmakers have to be involved.”

During the conversation, Cameron also said his “Avatar” novel is progressing slowly.

“Novels are hard,” he said. “And every time I get an idea for the novel, I kind of work it into the (“Avatar 2”) script, and I try to create a feedback loop.”

He said that he’s going to spend the next four years deep in "Avatar's" mythical Planet Pandora, making sure that the next two “Avatar” movies are as right as they can be.

But he’s also working on a Cirque du Soleil movie.

“The Cirque du Soleil film is going to be a timeless film and it’s going to be “Everest,” a film that’s going to make its money over time,” he said.

A day after Cameron and the Walt Disney Company announced plans for an “Avatar Land” attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in Florida, the director said he will be well involved in developing the attraction.

“We have a creative relationship which is contractually qualified — which puts us in the creative loop,”  he said. “When choices are made about designing rides and the design of the environments, we’ll be right there.”

As important, he said, “Avatar Land” will include elements of all three “Avatar” movies — not just the first.

“After the first of the year, the majority of my time is going to be spent on ‘Avatar’ films for the next four years,” he said.

That will make it “pretty painless and natural to work” with Disney on the project.