James Cameron Is Still Dedicated To Making 3D Movies For The Foreseeable Future

3D may be rapidly losing popularity and theaters, but James Cameron is still convinced that this technology is the future of cinema. The director helped revive 3D technology with his groundbreaking, lavish 2009 sci-fi film Avatar, but unfortunately, few films has lived up to the potential of 3D since then.

Which is why Cameron is flying the flag for 3D with all four of his Avatar sequels — and possibly with all of his films for the foreseeable future.

The Avatar director spoke at a Vivid event in Sydney this weekend, where he broached a variety of topics, including his continued commitment to 3D technology, and the possibility of the long-awaited Terminator commentary track.

In the talk, reported by VFX Blog, he expressed hope that 3D would become "commonplace," which he believes the industry has achieved, to an extent. "At the time that Avatar was released there were about three or four thousand theatres worldwide that were digital 3D enabled projection systems," Cameron said. "We now have on the order of 65,000 or 70,000 3D enabled screens. It's become ubiquitous. It's become commonplace, and therefore not remarkable, which is why a lot of people attributed such a climb with 3D or the failure of 3D. I think going from 3,000 to 70,000 theatres is far from failure."

However, 3D's popularity is starting to slip. IMAX theaters have begun dropping 3D screens, and reports show a dramatic decline in 3D box office sales. Most of us would breathe a sigh of relief at the downfall of the 3D trend, but not Cameron. He says that the unpopularity of 3D is because of Hollywood's gross mishandling of 3D conversion. He added:

"I think that Hollywood has done 3D a disservice by embracing post-conversion, which to me is the wrong track. We should do native photography because if we're ever going to incorporate 3D into broad content production, which most of which is live or near realtime or short turnaround TV production, we have to use the native production tools. Native production technology has basically stalled as of about three or four years ago. We need to re-embrace native production. My hopeful prediction is we'll get 4K out of our system from a broadcast perspective. When that becomes utterly commonplace and 100 percent saturated, everyone will look around for the next big thing."

Cameron is currently in the midst of the intensive production of his Avatar sequels, which are being shot concurrently with the aim of releasing the films in 2020, 2021, 2024, and 2025. The $1 billion production includes a brand spanking new underwater motion-capture technology that Cameron has been tinkering with for years, and, of course, 3D. Unlike the ugly and clumsy 3D conversions we've seen in numerous blockbuster films, Cameron intends to film all four of his Avatar sequels in native 3D.

But audiences will expect more with Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5. After all, Cameron gave them an incredible, immersive experience with the first Avatar — something so unique that the film shattered all-time box office records and still holds the title of highest-grossing movie ever. And Cameron has an answer for that. "The next big thing will be staring them in the face when they look in the mirror, which is, you've got two eyes. We perceive the world stereoscopically," Cameron said.

No more glasses, Cameron says. "We just want the screens to be all 3D and a good 3D." Cameron is working with Dolby Cinema for his Avatar sequels to develop a technology "high dynamic range projection" that could put "16 foot-lamberts of light on a 3D screen through the glasses." He added:

"We need to see the roll out of these laser projection systems, so that we can fully appreciate 3D through glasses in cinemas. Then, we need the roll out of autostereoscopic screens – large panel displays, where you don't need glasses at all. You have multiple discreet viewing angles and all that sort of thing. Anybody that's geeking out on 3D knows what I'm talking about. It's all possible. It's just a question of will it happen or not."

It sounds a little far-fetched for now, but Cameron is nothing if not ambitious. The man has his hands in many pots outside of Avatar, including a new Terminator film starring Diego Luna. Speaking of Terminator, what about that long-awaited director commentary track for the original 1984 film, an audience member asked. "Okay, fair enough, I'll do it, how does that sound?" Cameron answered.

Just one more Cameron project to look forward to.