Ahead of the debut of 2009's Avatar, filmmaker James Cameron already proved himself to be a master of his craft, earning both critical and financial acclaim over the decades, so when one executive at 20th Century Fox told him he needed to trim the 162-minute run time of Avatar, he didn't hold back on his frustrations. The filmmaker was so confident in his project that he stood up to the executive, offering an expletive-filled rebuttal of just how much of a success his film would be and how, once it was a success, it would be too late for the executive to retract their words.
"I said something I've never said to anybody else in the business," Cameron shared in an interview with GQ. "'I think this movie is going to make all the f-cking money. And when it does, it's going to be too late for you to love the film. The time for you to love the movie is today. So I'm not asking you to say something that you don't feel, but just know that I will always know that no matter how complimentary you are about the movie in the future when it makes all the money.'"
He continued, "And that's exactly what I said, in caps, 'ALL THE MONEY,' not some of the money, all the f-cking money. I said, 'You can't come back to me and compliment the film or chum along and say, "Look what we did together." You won't be able to do that.' At that point, that particular studio executive flipped out and went bug sh-t on me. And I told him to get the f-ck out of my office. And that's where it was left."
Cameron made it a point not to name the executive, given how tense the exchange was. With the film going on to become the top-grossing movie of all time, clearly Cameron ended up winning the debate.
As far as why the film was such a success, the filmmaker noted that it wasn't so much an alignment of outside factors so much as it was the accomplishments of the endeavor itself.
"I think anybody that's seen the movie knows why [it was a success]; it's a f-cking gigantic adventure that's an all-consuming emotional experience that leaves you wrung out by the end of the movie," Cameron confessed. "And it was groundbreaking visually, and it still holds up today. So I don't think I need a theory."
Avatar: The Way of Water lands in theaters on December 16th.
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