Movies & TV

Cameron traces roots of sci-fi in new series

Cameron’s “Avatar” holds the record for ticket sales, with $2.8 billion worldwide. Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

LOS ANGELES: “Avatar” director James Cameron’s latest project takes audiences back to the humble beginnings of science fiction movies, long before films like “Star Wars” sold billions of dollars worth of tickets and dominated popular culture. In a six-part documentary series that debuts on U.S. cable network AMC Monday, Cameron explores the B-movies of the 1950s, space and alien films of the 1960s, and post-apocalyptic thrillers of the 1970s.

While many are now considered classics, including Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” from 1968, Cameron said Hollywood executives at the time showed little interest in a genre that rarely yielded big box office returns.

“Nobody had ever made any damn money with science fiction,” Cameron told reporters at the Manhattan Beach, California, studio where he is in the midst of making two “Avatar” sequels.

Everything changed with “Star Wars” in 1977, which became the highest-grossing domestic film in history at the time and sent film studios scrambling to imitate it.

“You had a lot of bad science fiction for a while, all trying to cash in on ‘Star Wars,’” Cameron said.

“Then the whole genre elevated and became much more what it is today, which is much more a part of the mainstream culture.”

Today, movies grounded in science fiction are among the biggest box office draws.

Cameron’s “Avatar” holds the current record for ticket sales with $2.8 billion worldwide.

The weekend’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” from Walt Disney’s Marvel Studios, has been ranked the fourth-highest U.S. and Canadian opening of all time.

In the series “AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction,” Cameron interviews fellow directors Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan about filmmaking and their influences.

Cameron traded notes with the directors on their favorite sci-fi literature from as far back as the 1930s, something he wanted to highlight as a key part of the genre’s origins.

“What was important to me for this series was to trace back the DNA of these stories,” Cameron said. “So if you’ve got a time travel story, where did that come from? If you’ve got a space story, how did that enter our popular culture? Why did science fiction as a genre struggle to try and popularize these ideas?”

Cameron argued that science fiction is now more relevant than ever as humans become more dependent on machines. “We are co-evolving with our own technology,” Cameron said.

“Science fiction is kind of our headlights. It helps us see what’s down the road.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 30, 2018, on page 12.

Recommended





Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here