Titanic director James Cameron, warning that Hollywood is "in a fight for survival," wants the movie industry to offer films in digital 3-D to counteract declining sales and rampant piracy.
"Maybe we just need to fight back harder, come out blazing, not wither away and die," the Canadian-born director said during his keynote address Sunday at the National Association of Broadcasters' Digital Cinema Summit in Las Vegas.
"D-cinema can do it, for a number of reasons, but because d-cinema is an enabling technology for 3-D. Digital 3-D is a revolutionary form of showmanship that is within our grasp. It can get people off their butts and away from their portable devices and get people back in the theatres where they belong."
Cameron also took the occasion of the world's largest annual film and broadcast technology trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center to fire a few shots across the bow of the controversial practice of simultaneous movie and video releasing being promoted by entrepreneur Mark Cuban and Bubble director Steven Soderbergh, among others.
"We're so scared of piracy right now that we're ready to pimp out our mothers," Cameron said. "This whole day-and-date DVD release nonsense? Here's an answer: [Digital cinema is]one of the strongest reasons I've been pushing 3-D for the past few years because it offers a powerful experience which you can only have in the movie theatre."
The director of the highest-grossing film of all time in nominal terms at $1.8 billion (U.S.) worldwide said he is considering a rerelease of 1997's Titanic in digital 3-D, just as Peter Jackson is planning at some point for King Kong and, possibly, his The Lord of the Rings trilogy. George Lucas also plans to rerelease his original Star Wars in 3-D timed to the space opera's 30th anniversary next year.
With filmmakers and exhibitors united behind the idea of enhanced cinema experiences, Cameron predicted that studios would become even more focused on both releasing new titles and rereleasing classics in 3-D digital cinema.
"We will reach a point in a few years when every major studio will ask how many of its four or five annual tentpoles should be in 3-D . . . ," Cameron said. "Every year there will be a copy of timeless favourites brought back through [3-D]dimensionalization," he said. "The new wave of 3-D films will be the must-see films, the major releases from major filmmakers."
Cameron said that despite industry-wide squabbling and fear-based decision-making associated with new technology, and even despite the fact that the major studios haven't co-operated in the past, the digital cinema rollout actually is happening.
Among the films testing the various 3-D waters are Narnia producer Walden Media and New Line Cinema's Journey to the Center of the Earth, which is being shot live-action with stereographic cameras; Robert Zemeckis's Beowulf, which is employing 3-D-animated performance capture; and Walt Disney Feature Animation's computer-animated Meet the Robinsons, which will be projected in 3-D.