James Cameron Said "Get the F*** Out" to Fox Executive Who Tried to Shorten 'Avatar'

James Cameron cursed out fox executive who tried to shorten 'Avatar'
Director James Cameron Credit: Mark Fellman/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Never cross James Cameron, the keeper of grudges. 

After nearly 40 years of filmmaking, James Cameron has made a name for himself as one of the most influential modern American filmmakers, turning out big blockbusters that make studio executives foam at the mouth. The success of Titanic and Avatar can not be overstated when talking about modern-day blockbusters, and it’s mostly because Cameron has a keen sensibility for what he and the audience will find entertaining. 

He lives to make great films that excite and entertain, but not everyone agrees with Cameron’s vision for a successful film. Those people, unfortunately, meet Cameron’s infamous temper. 

The filmmaker revealed in a new GQ interview that he told an unnamed executive at Fox who begged Cameron to make Avatar shorter months before the 2009 epic would hit theaters, “The time for you to love the movie is today.” 

James Cameron cursed out fox executive who tried to shorten 'Avatar'
'Avatar'Credit: 20th Century Studios

Cameron said that the executive approached him with a “stricken cancer-diagnosis expression” after watching a prerelease screening of Avatar. Cameron recalls saying something “I’ve never said to anybody else in the business.” 

Cameron told the executive, “‘I think this movie is going to make all the fucking 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, and that’s exactly what I said, in caps, ALL THE MONEY, not some of the money, all the fucking money.”  

The film ran 162 minutes, breaking box office records around the world, making all of the money that Cameron knew it would make, and is still the most successful debut of any film to date. 

Cameron stood firm about the success of his film, knowing that when it did do well, studio executives will attach themselves to the success, even if they passed on the film at first or tried to change the filmmaker’s vision at any point. 

“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,’” Cameron said. “At that point, that particular studio executive flipped out and went bug shit on me. And I told him to get the fuck out of my office. And that’s where it was left.” 

James Cameron cursed out fox executive who tried to shorten 'Avatar'
Sigourney Weaver, Joel Moore, director James Cameron and Sam Worthington on the 'Avatar' setCredit: Everett Collection

Cameron’s hot temper is well known throughout the industry, and the director is well aware of this reputation he has gained.

“And then there was a legitimate time when I look at like, ‘All right, why am I getting so upset, and what is that solving?’” Cameron said while reflecting on his reputation. “I’m not saying I don’t get upset once in a while. I mean, everybody, I think, is entitled to a bad day. But whereas before, it might have been once every couple of weeks, now it’s like twice a year.” 

Cameron was determined to keep Avatar the way he wrote it and saw it. The filmmaker recalled another conversation he had with Peter Chernin, the then-head of Fox, when the studio initially passed on the film. Although Chernin liked the script, he asked if they could cut the "tree-hugging hippie bullshit," according to Cameron.

“I said, ‘So, Peter, I’m at a point now in my career and in my life where I can pretty much make any movie I want. And I chose to make this story because of the tree-hugging hippie bullshit,’” Cameron said. Cameron then told Chernin that Disney would make Avatar in a heartbeat and that Chernin would look like “a big dick” if Avatar made a lot of money. 

James Cameron cursed out fox executive who tried to shorten 'Avatar'
James Cameron on 'Avatar: The Way of Water'Credit: 20th Century Studios

If two and half hours is too long a runtime for some studio executives, then Avatar: The Way of Water will shock them. Clocking in at 192 minutes, The Way of Water is a longer movie that focuses more on “relationship and emotion” compared to the first movie, and Cameron doesn’t care if you need to get up and go pee in the middle of the film.   

“The goal is to tell an extremely compelling story on an emotional basis,” Cameron said to Total Film earlier this month. “I would say the emphasis in the new film is more on character, more on story, more on relationships, more on emotion. We didn’t spend as much time on relationship[s] and emotion in the first film as we do in the second film, and it’s a longer film because there are more characters to service. There’s more story to service.”

The Way of Water is the long-awaited sequel from Cameron that continues to explore one of the most visually stunning and highly-detailed worlds in cinema.

Let us know what you think of Cameron cursing out a studio executive!      

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