James Cameron ‘s career as a director began more than 40 years ago. In all that time he has only directed nine fiction films -and it is already confirmed that the tenth will be ‘Avatar 3’-, but his name has been associated as a director with many other titles that he finally did not deal with. Some got on with someone else behind the scenes, but others were quickly forgotten.
At Espinof we wanted to take advantage of the fact that ‘Avatar: The Sense of Water’ continues to sweep the box office to remember another 16 films that James Cameron launched – or at least wanted to do so – but that fell by the wayside. The ‘Avatar’ phenomenon has had a lot to do with it in several cases, but there are titles that go back much further than Pandora even existed in the mind of its author. Let’s go with them:
‘Alita: Battle Angel’
Yukito Kishiro ‘s manga adaptation was going to be Cameron’s first film in the 21st century, but he ended up shelving it in favor of ‘Avatar’. Later he briefly took it up again with the idea of making it a trilogy, but abandoned the project again, eventually handing it over to Robert Rodriguez, though Cameron is credited as producer and co-writer on an impressive but somewhat patchy film.
‘Bright Angel Falling’
It sounds a bit like James Cameron’s ‘Armageddon’, as it told the story of a meteorite bound for Earth that threatened to destroy everything and the efforts of a group of astronauts to avoid it. It’s not entirely clear that he was going to direct it, but he did write the script with Peter Hyams. Unfortunately, the script leaked online and the project ended up being shelved.
A futuristic science fiction film announced in 2009 described as a heir to ‘The Seven Samurai’ in which a group of humans and aliens unite to save the Earth. Written by Shane Salermo, it was said at the time that Cameron was going to work on its development, but nothing was ever heard from it again.
‘Dungeons and Dragons’
James Cameron was one of the many directors who at some point were associated with the project that ended up giving shape to the catastrophic film released in the year 2000. The impossibility of the company that published the game reaching an agreement with Fox, where he worked the filmmaker at that time made it impossible for the thing to materialize.
It was announced that the animated saga ‘Heavy Metal’ was going to return in 2008 with David Fincher sponsoring the project. Fincher himself was going to direct one of the stories and it was said that both Guillermo del Toro and Zack Snyder and Gore Verbinski wanted to take care of each other. Cameron didn’t join the project until a year later to serve as co-executive producer and direct one of the stories. Things ran aground and Cameron ended up leaving a project that ended up evolving into what we know today as ‘Love, Death & Robots’.
Cameron went on to announce that the first film he would make after completing his work on the first two ‘Avatar’ sequels would be this adaptation of the Taylor Stevens novel about an American missionary woman in Cameroon who suffers a traumatic experience at age 14 and who then works for the government and different corporations getting specialized information in the area. Of course, its premiere was expected for 2016 and everything indicates that it has ended up being left aside for the benefit of more deliveries of ‘Avatar’.
‘The Mummy’ (by Anne Rice)
In the mid-90s, Fox took over the rights to Anne Rice ‘s novel about Ramses the Damned, of which he would publish two new installments many years later, and hired Cameron to direct it, but the project never went ahead and the studio I end up losing the rights.
‘Riskful Lies 2’
An announced sequel for which there was a script to the liking of all the main parties involved. The big problem was that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led Cameron to conclude that ” Terrorism is no longer something you can take as lightly as we did in the first one. I can’t think of how it could be done in the current weather .” Everything indicates that it will never be done.
Cameron was eager to make a movie based on the Michael Crichton novel , but he wasn’t the only one and he wasn’t the fastest either, as Steven Spielberg bought the rights just hours before he tried it. Of course, Cameron recognized after seeing the film that he was glad about it and that he would not have been the right person to direct it.
Cameron announced in 2012 that he had in mind a prequel to ‘Avatar’ that ” goes back to the first expeditions to Pandora, and what happened between humans and the Na’vi” , but it seems that he ended up discarding the idea, because in His moment highlighted that until ‘Avatar 5’ everything would be sequels to the first installment…
A science fiction project about a kind of motorcycle gang from the future -Cameron wanted them to use a kind of pocket rockets instead of motorcycles- in which he collaborated with Randall Frakes and JF Lawton of which a script came to exist in 1991 , but the filmmaker was not entirely satisfied with the result and ended up abandoned in the drawer.
Stanislaw Lem ‘s science fiction novel had already been brought to the big screen by Andrei Tarkosvky and Cameron spent several years trying to get the rights to both to bring forward a new version . He got it, but by then he was so busy with other projects that he ultimately only served as a producer on the 2002 Steven Soderbergh -directed film.
Cameron himself has declared that it is ” the best movie I ever made “, since in the early 90s he tried to bring the adventures of Marvel’s wall-crawler to the big screen. He had a script and wanted Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead, but Carolco ‘s bankruptcy ended up sinking the project. Then I couldn’t convince Fox to take over the rights and finally it was Sam Raimi who adapted the character for Sony with Tobey Maguire in the skin of Peter Parker.
‘The Last Train from Hiroshima’
Adaptation of the book by Charles R. Pellegrino about the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a Japanese man who survived the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and who died shortly after having an encounter with Cameron. The project did not finish moving forward at the beginning of the last decade and the director chose to give priority to the sequels to ‘Avatar’.
Cameron did not hide during the 90s that he would be delighted to do ‘Terminator 3’, but everything was complicated by the collapse of Carolco. Then there was an attempt by Fox to lift the project, but the filmmaker ended up focusing on ‘Titanic’. Curiously, the plan did not include the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger , who would end up participating in ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’, which in its own way works as the third installment of the saga, at the request of Cameron himself.
New version of the Richard Fleischer film released in 1966 that proposes a journey inside the human body thanks to a tremendous technological advance that allows the human body to be reduced to a tiny size. Cameron showed a clear interest in it in the late 90’s, but ended up putting it aside to focus on the project that ended up becoming ‘Avatar’.