People always seem to want James Cameron to fail, most notably when he embarked upon the $200 million adventure of making Titanic. Suffice it to say that the pressure is on for his $230 million 3-D epic Avatar, marking a return to the big screen after 12 years without a feature film. Cameron and an array of cronies, colleagues, and competitors talk to Dana Goodyear for a wide-ranging New Yorker profile of the famously outspoken director.
Cameron—who says things like, “If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success”— wanted to make “a classic guys’ adventure movie,” but Avatar still ended up “a chick flick,” he says, with the requisite Cameron love story at its core. “He likes to write about ’em and he likes to marry ’em," says an old friend of the wed-five-times director. Though fan reactions so far haven’t been entirely promising, Cameron promises Avatar’s special effects, at least, won’t disappoint: “It’s the most complicated stuff anyone’s ever done.” Others seem to agree: “When you look at the history of film, there have been to date two great revolutions—sound and color,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg. “This will be the third great revolution," the definitive work of 3-D.