Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Director James Cameron is photographed during a portrait session at a central London hotel following the 'Titanic 3D' UK film premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, West London, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. The re-launch of the Titanic 3D version comes 15 years after the film was a huge box office hit. The film director also recently completed a record dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, plunging 35756 feet to the depths of the ocean, spending 3 hours on the sea floor in a specially designed submarine.

Joel Ryan/The Associated Press

As Hollywood directors increasingly make their films in 3-D, the biggest financial winner is turning out to be one of their own: director James Cameron.

Mr. Cameron has emerged as one of Hollywood's hottest entrepreneurs by cashing in on the 3-D technology he created for Avatar, which ranks as the highest-grossing film with a worldwide box office take of $2.8-billion.

Mr. Cameron also directed the second-highest grossing film of all time, the nautical disaster-romance starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Titanic, which is set to return to theaters in 3-D on Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

As George Lucas set the standard for special effects with Star Wars, Mr. Cameron, 57, is setting the bar for 3-D technology with cameras he created and making millions for himself in the process by renting them to other film and TV directors.

The Cameron Pace Group, which the director formed 12 years ago with camera guru Vince Pace, last year generated revenue "in the ballpark of" $58-million, said its Chief Operating Officer O.D. Welch.

That is a fraction of what Lucas' ILM special-effects house generates, but as 3-D productions grow Cameron Pace is expected to as well. So far, it has rented cameras and other gear to more than two dozen movies, nine concert films and 140 sports broadcasts.

Hollywood's 3-D conversion movement may help Mr. Cameron erase his past failed efforts at being an inventor-entrepreneur. The eccentric and sometimes combative director, along with late special-effects maven Stan Winston, started Digital Domain in 1993 to compete with Lucas' ILM special-effects house.

Mr. Cameron left the company in 1998 after clashing with investors that included IBM and Cox Communications over the strategic direction, according to Rebecca Keegan's Cameron biography The Futurist.

As a result, Digital Domain never held its planned initial public offering.

"I had begun to dislike the dynamic," Mr. Cameron told Keegan. "When it was clear that the very controls I needed fell mostly in the conflict-of-interest category, it obviated the upside for me."

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Cameron was not available for a comment. On March 25, he journeyed to the bottom of the ocean, taking 3-D cameras with him seven miles beneath the Pacific.

The failure of Digital Domain has not dimmed Mr. Cameron's star among Hollywood moguls, said Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

"Entrepreneurs are judged by their successes not their failures," Mr. Katzenberg said. "What he's done is build an incredible business out of the 3-D technology he developed."

Housed in three non-descript buildings near the Burbank airport, Cameron Pace collects money every step in the 3-D movie-making process. It rents its Fusion 3-D rig and other equipment to film producers such as Michael Bay, who used it for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, for up to $3-million a film.

TV productions, such as CBS's coverage of the U.S. Open tennis championship, pay less than $100,000 apiece for the seven or eight cameras it typically can use to shoot an event, said CBS head of operations Ken Aagaard.

Mr. Cameron is so serious about the production quality of his 3-D cameras that his company bestows a seal of approval, as it did with Martin Scorsese's film Hugo.

Story continues below advertisement

That certification allows a studio to promote the quality of its films to investors and potential distributors, said Lyndsay Harding, chief financial officer of Evergreen Films, the first studio to be CPG certified.

Evergreen will negotiate with Cameron Pace on how it will be paid, she said. Evergreen used Cameron Pace equipment to produce Walking with Dinosaurs that News Corp's Fox is distributing next year.

Another as yet untapped revenue stream could be harvested by certifying 3-D TV sets and other electronic products, said Mr. Welch. Cameron Pace may also consider licensing its eight patents, or the dozen more that are pending.

In addition to his 3-D camera business, Mr. Cameron is helping design a new Avatar-themed area of Walt Disney Co.'s Animal Kingdom park in Orlando. For his work with Disney's Imagineering unit and consulting on its construction, Mr. Cameron will share in the royalties from the merchandise, rides or anything else they create.

The majority of the royalties will go to Fox, which distributed the film. Disney hopes the area proves to be successful enough to expand to its other parks.

What draws a customer to Mr. Cameron's company continues to be his uncontrollable lust for all things 3-D. Michael Lewis, chief executive of RealD, a company that licenses 3-D projectors and glasses to theaters, was stunned when Cameron, a RealD board member, nearly became a production assistant during filming of the movie Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away.

Story continues below advertisement

"I look up," Mr. Lewis recalled, "and there's James Cameron hanging 80 feet above the ground."

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies