Piranha 3D Producer Responds to James Cameron’s 3D Rant

Earlier this week, some choice comments from James Cameron in Vanity Fair sparked debate over the reputation of 3-D films and the best use of the new technology. Cameron criticized Piranha 3D for cheapening the medium and using it as nothing more than a gimmick, claiming that the “biggest and the best” films are now also being made in 3-D. Well, now, in an effort to stand up for his movie (and sensing an opportunity for more publicity), Piranha 3D producer Mark Canton has bared his own teeth and fired back a passionate and long-winded statement of his own:

“As a producer in the entertainment industry, Jim Cameron’s comments on VanityFair.com are very disappointing to me and the team that made Piranha 3D. Mr. Cameron, who singles himself out to be a visionary of movie-making, seems to have a small vision regarding any motion pictures that are not his own. It is amazing that in the movie-making process – which is certainly a team sport – that Cameron consistently celebrates himself out as though he is a team of one. His comments are ridiculous, self-serving and insulting to those of us who are not caught up in serving his ego and his rhetoric.

Jim, are you kidding or what? First of all, let’s start by you accepting the fact that you were the original director of PIRANHA 2 and you were fired. Shame on you for thinking that genre movies and the real maestros like Roger Corman and his collaborators are any less auteur or impactful in the history of cinema than you. Martin Scorcese made Boxcar Bertha at the beginning of his career. And Francis Ford Coppola made Dimentia 13 back in 1963. And those are just a few examples of the talented and successful filmmakers whose roots are in genre films. Who are you to impugn any genre film or its creators?

Having been deeply involved, as either an executive or as a producer, on Tim Burton’s original BATMAN and the first MEN IN BLACK, as well as 300, and now IMMORTALS, one of the things that has been consistent about all of the filmmakers involved in these landscape-changing global films is that, in each and every case, all of the directors were humbled by their predecessors, their colleagues and by their awareness of the great history of film that came before them. The enjoyment and the immersion of an audience in a movie theatre, as they had and will have with the above-mentioned films, and as audiences are experiencing with PIRNAHA 3D now, comes from the originality and the vision of the filmmaker, and not just from the creation of the technology. You as much as anyone certainly knows that there are many pieces to the puzzle. Going to the movies still remains, arguably, amongst the best communal experiences that human beings can share.

My sense is that Mr. Cameron has never seen PIRANHA 3D…certainly not in a movie theatre with a real audience. Jim, we invite you to take that opportunity and experience the movie in a theatre full of fans – fans for whom this movie was always intended to entertain. Does Mr. Cameron have no idea of the painstaking efforts made by the talented young filmmaker Alex Aja and his team of collaborators? Clearly, and this one is a good bet, he has no clue as to how great and how much of a fun-filled experience the audiences who have seen the film in 3D have enjoyed. Those of us who have tried to stay in touch with the common movie audiences – the ones who really matter, the ones who actually still go to the theatre, put on the glasses, and eat the popcorn – take joy and pride in the fact that movies of all kinds, including PIRANHA 3D, have a place in filmmaking history – past, present and future. 3D unto itself is not a genre Jim, it is a tool that gives audiences an enhanced experience as they experience all kinds of movies. I believe Mr. Cameron did not see PIRANHA 3D either with any real audience or not at all. On opening weekend, I was in a Los Angeles theatre with a number of today’s great film makers including JJ Abrams, who actually had nothing short of the fabulous, fun 3D experience that the movie provides. I am fortunate enough to have worked on, and continue to work on, evolutionary movies in all formats from just simple good story telling, which still matters most of all, to CG movies to tent-pole size 3D movies, and genre 3D movies like PIRANHA 3D. What it comes down to, Jim, is – that like most things in life – size doesn’t really matter. Not everyone has the advantage of having endless amounts of money to play in their sandbox and to take ten years using other people’s money to make and market a film….like you do. Why can’t you just count your blessings? Why do you have to drop Marty Scorsese’s or Tim Burton’s names, both gentlemen who I have personally worked with, and who have enjoyed great joy and success with movies of all genres and sizes well before the advent of modern 3D? Then as now, they were like kids in a candy store recognizing, far beyond your imagination, the possibilities of storytelling and originality.

For the record, before you just totally dismiss PIRANHA 3D and all, in your opinion, worthless genre movies that actually undoubtedly gave you the ability to start your career, you should know that PIRANHA 3D had an 82% “fresh” (positive) ratting on Rotten Tomatoes on opening day – a web site that all the studios, filmmakers and the public use as a barometer of what makes a quality film.

We know that PIRANHA 3D has not achieved a boxoffice that is on the level of many of Mr. Cameron’s successes. To date, PIRANHA 3D has earned over $30 million around the globe with #1 openings in several countries. And, as the “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes indicates, critics and many, many others have embraced and celebrated PIRANHA 3D for the fun and entertaining – and even smart – movie-going experience that it is.

Let’s just keep this in mind Jim….you did not invent 3D. You were fortunate that others inspired you to take it further. The simple truth is that I had nothing but good things to say about AVATAR and my own experience since I actually saw it and didn’t damn someone else’s talent publicly in order to disassociate myself from my origins in the business from which we are all very fortunate. To be honest, I found the 3D in AVATAR to be inconsistent and while ground breaking in many respects, sometimes I thought it overwhelmed the storytelling. Technology aside, I wish AVATAR had been more original in its storytelling.

We have to inspire, teach and mentor this next generation of filmmakers. It is garbage to suggest that any film or any filmmaker who cannot afford to work to your standards should be dissuaded from following his or her craft by not making 3D movies or not making movies like DISTRICT 9, for example, which probably cost the amount of AVATAR’s craft services budget, but totally rocked it in the movie theatre and in the marketplace. In that case, it was not a 3D movie. But had it been, it certainly would not have been any less original or impactful. The enormous worldwide success of AVATAR has been good in all respects for you, your financiers, your distributors and the industry, as well as for the movie going public. Jim, there is a difference between Maestro which is a word that garners respect, and Dictator or Critic which are words better left for others who are not in our mutual boat or on our team. You are one of the best, it is reasonable to think that you should dig deeper and behave like it. Young directors should be inspired by you, not publicly castigated by your mean-spirited and flawed analysis.

While we are all awed by your talents and your box office successes – and I compliment you on all of them – why don’t you rethink how you address films with which you are not involved? You should be taking the high road that is being travelled by so many of your peers, and pulling with them to ensure that we, as an industry, will have a continuum of talented filmmakers that will deliver a myriad of motion pictures both big and small, with 3D or any other technologies yet to come that will entertain audiences throughout the world. That is the challenge that we face. That is the future that we should deliver.”

Oh, snap! Man, I love Hollywood beefs. The funny thing is, if Cameron hadn’t said anything, Piranha probably would have just quietly disappeared from theatres in another week or so (okay, maybe it still will). But now he’s drawn a lot of attention to it, and given people something to talk about, which is probably the opposite of what he wanted to accomplish. Well done, sir. Does Canton’s statement ring true for you, or is it just another sales pitch?

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  • bard

    Loved it. He kept it respectful, but made a strong point.

  • Rick

    GO MARK CANTON!!!!

  • BigHungry

    One good bite deserves another! Get him mark.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RufM6eQ06ck

  • Kyriacos

    NICE…

  • lolololololololol

  • Kurt

    Not really taking sides on this one, but I do find it hilariously choice to have the producer of Piranha 3D calling out James Cameron on originality and story-telling chops (“Technology aside, I wish AVATAR had been more original in its storytelling.”) Wacky Stuff Kids.

  • Slushie Man

    As much as I love Cameron and his work, he totally had that coming.

  • bard

    Kurt,

    I think it’s fairly obvious that Piranha 3D didn’t intend on having a compelling story or anything. It’s a genre film. And even then, the story was actually decent.

  • TheAllKnowingGod

    Someone hit a nerve I think!

  • Falsk

    This is AWESOME, hahaha. I love the obvious chiding voice every time he says “Jim”.

    Brilliant. :D

  • Zoo

    Well said Mark Canton. He only said what many of us had already posted about Cameron on a previous post. Canton was just more diplomatic about it.

  • Bravo! Bravo! Avatar was one tenth as entertaining as Piranha 3D. The story was more original too.

  • Gil

    Finally. Too bad he didn’t just flat out say that Avatar sucked balls. Fucking bureaucrats.

  • DavidM

    Hopefully Cameron’s response to this will be:
    tl;dr

    Or maybe just stfu you butt-hurt windbag. What an embarrassing wank of a retort. All that because of a side-swipe at his silly little film.

    Pro tip: write it, save it in Draft, sleep on it, delete it in the morning.

  • DavidM

    Seriously, this is so *bad*… it’s stunning. So scattershot and waffly.
    I like how he ropes in District 9 to aid his cause, then, realising it hasn’t got anything to do with anything, “In that case, it was not a 3D movie. But had it been… ” But it wasn’t though. It wasn’t.

    So many sentences he starts being reasonable, then quickly resorts to message board level snarkyness. And, really, if you’re a film producer and you decide to zing James Cameron in public the very least you can do is make sure that what you’re saying is accurate, because: “you were the original director of PIRANHA 2 and you were fired” is wrong.

    I suggest Mark Canton takes a short holiday, and here’s some reading matter to take with him: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/ae/Youll_never_eat_lunch_1st_ed.jpg

  • Derek

    (“Technology aside, I wish AVATAR had been more original in its storytelling.”)

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. All it was, was
    Kevin Costners, Dances With Wolves in green screen/ 3D.

  • Derek

    I can’t wait ta see Piranha 3D!
    Jim you’ve inspired me…thanks ;)

  • Man, where is this guy getting all this from? Cameron didn’t say shit about genre film. Why would he? With maybe one or two exceptions all of his work has been genre.

    I also find it funny that Cameron lambasts Friday The 13th 3-D when it’s one of the better 3-D movies out there. Piranha 3-D only wishes it could be that good.

  • Ben

    I think what’s being lost in the shuffle with all of this is that…

    3D FUCKING SUCKS!!!!