James Cameron Calls Battleship Movie Desperate and Degrading

On a slow news day, it’s always nice to have James Cameron around to spark some controversy. Last year the outspoken director voiced his opinion on Piranha 3D, saying that “it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s.” Now this week he was asked for his thoughts on originality in Hollywood, and he certainly did not hold back, even calling out Peter Berg’s board game movie Battleship as an example of the ongoing “story crisis” in the industry. Keep in mind, the following quote was translated from German, so it may not be 100% accurate:

“We have a story crisis… Now they want to make the Battleship game into a film. This is pure desperation. Everyone in Hollywood knows how important it is that a film is a brand before it hit theaters. If a brand has been around, Harry Potter for example, or Spider-Man, you are light years ahead. And there lies the problem. Because unfortunately these franchises are become more ridiculous. Battleship. This degrades the cinema.”

I wonder how he feels about McG going from directing a Terminator sequel to a Ouija board movie? Either way, I don’t think many people would disagree with what he says, although it’s difficult to see Cameron as a shining beacon of originality when Avatar has been accused of regurgitating classic story elements from movies like Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves. On the other hand, at least he was able to pull a new franchise from thin air, which is not something many directors have the freedom or ability to do nowadays. What do you think, is Cameron throwing stones from a glass house, or is he on the money here? Did movies like Avatar and Inception succeed because they were original, or because the directors are essentially brand names themselves?

If you can read German, you can check out the full interview over at Spiegel Online.

  • Juan Carlos

    Avatar is like pocahontas meets dances with wolves meets smurf meets thundercats.
    Avatar is waaaaaaaaay overrated and he is no god on 3D. Let me say that Avatar is not that great of a movie. The story, script and characters were predictable and was not amazing or great in any level. That movie did what it did because of the CGI.

  • He’s the last person to be lecturing others on originality. I like his movies, but the guy is a Grade A hypocritical asshole.

  • Mark In Ottawa

    Whatever, dude.

    Go and play with your cockpump.

    You’re just pissed off ’cause you’re not directing “Drive Angry”.

  • The Man

    I agree with him. Hollywood is so afraid to give new writers a chance. Their so in love with reailty tv and remakes. I don’t really have a problem with either but would much rather have a well written tv or movie.

  • rob

    although i do consider Cameroon a bit of an asshole, he is saying what we have all been thinking/saying since these were announced

  • Captain N

    Be realistic, the audience dictates the movies in theaters.

  • TheStig

    Yeah, Cameron has absolutely no room to talk about originality. Avatar was almost exactly like the movie Fern Gully in every single way. It’s ridiculous how similar they were. Almost close enough for a law suit…

  • Gil

    Even his statement is unoriginal, as correct as it stands.

  • all powerful directors should follow his lead. You people are focusing on the wrong part of this story. Any complaints about the lack of greenlit original stories by powerful people in Hollywood is a GOOD THING! you, as the audience member, WIN!

    -tent-poles and branded entertainment rule the world of Hollywood
    -talk to people in the business, investors are not supporting independent ideas, new properties
    -outlets like IFC have even given up and are switching to canned safe entertainment
    -the adult drama is dead
    -the golden age of the 70s and the freedom it allowed filmmakers is like a folktale these days

    Stop criticizing JC and start criticizing THE SYSTEM!!! (moody music)

  • I’m sorry Rus, but I’m so tired of this romanticized version of the movies coming out of the 70s. The 70s produced just as many tent pole type movies as they do now. The 70s produced AIRPORT (plus three sequels), THE POSEIDEN ADVENTURE, 5 James Bond movies, a re-make of KING KONG, a sequel to ROCKY, and a ton of others that I don’t have time to look up. Plus, I’m not sure I get the original vs non original concept. Some of the greatest movies of the 70s, from JAWS to THE EXORCIST, to THE GODFATHER, to SUPERMAN, and many others that are considered classics are based on other material. Yes, there was a brief period of time when studios appeared to take greater risks in the movies they made, which admittedly they tend to take zero risk today, but it was always offset by bigger budget, more audience friendly type of fare. It’s certainly not as if we once lived in this movie paradise where one cinematic masterpiece after the other bringing in hordes of movie lovers. It simply didn’t happen. And it’s certainly not as if this evil industry shut off the money tap for the visionary directors as soon as the receipts for JAWS and STAR WARS started rolling in.

  • I realize my argument is loaded in my favor seeing how the 70s actually ‘birthed’ the modern blockbuster.
    This naturally morphed in to the end-all-be-all that it is now.

    As an aside, I personally don’t considered movies based on books or plays in the same catagory as movies based toys, games, food. movies based on books and plays have been here since the very first film was produced. movies based on established non literary items is an outgrowth of the branded, mult-media, mash-up age we currently inhabit.

    my main gripe is “the system” has throw the baby out with the bath water to the point all the focus is on one sector of storytelling. like it or not, film schedules and investor focus has moved away from unique projects and that is directly different from the early 70s when artists were given a relative small amount to make a picture without the need for it to be a universal crowd pleaser. (you can’t lump true independents in with this as I’m talking about established studio financed pictures)

    The facts are there
    -all studios have decreased film production while increasing investment in branded titles
    -all, but a few, of the studio supported independent labels have been folded in to the main studio balance sheet to improve the bottom line.

  • Fatbologna

    I agree with Phil here. This stuff has always worked the same.

    “the adult drama is dead” is one of the most hyperbolic bullshit statements I’ve read in a while. Black Swan, The Social Network, Never Let Me Go and everywhere else in the world that’s not America would tend to disagree with you. I’ve seen more creativity and ingenuity in the last decade than I can remember and anyone that says otherwise needs to stop bitching and start looking for alternate sources of information (http://twitchfilm.com/!)

    Tent-poles and branded entertainment run Hollywood but there’s a fuckton of cinema out there that’s not Hollywood. I feel like the last decade has proven that with new technology comes new opportunities for smaller filmmakers to thrive. Look at the festival circuit! There’s so much interesting shit out there!

    Besides all that, Cameron’s a fucking ego maniacal douchebag that constantly puts tech above real storytelling and to hear him talk about story above anything is retarded.

  • God (Cameron) has spoken. Go back to your menial, insignificant lives, little people.

  • Rynn

    Pot, meet kettle.

    Avatar was an unoriginal piece of shit. Try practicing what you preach, Cameron.

  • Niklas

    I love Avatar

  • Steve Kasan

    Avatar is also this….the Dolph Lundgren 80s action film Red Scorpion. Watch that film and tell me Avatar is not it storyline wise.

  • KeithTalent

    This guy is such a freaking blowhard, I wish he would shut up and go away.

    The whole 3D thing has become so annoying, he’s even going on about it in games now, with Crysis 2: http://www.next-gen.biz/news/crytek-james-cameron-loves-crysis-2

  • mlonster

    lol…says the man who did (did he?).. (hurl..) avatar..
    how to exploit real artists..eh!?..

  • Anthony

    Inception succeeded on both points you mentioned. Avatar really on the Cameron thing plus the 3D hype.

  • EB3

    Here’s an original story concept….
    A romantic drama involving two lovebirds on a sinking ship. Poof! Out of thin air! Who would have thought of that? Only a genius?