Battle Over 3D - James Cameron vs Piranha 3D's Mark Canton
by Alex Billington
August 31, 2010
Let the battle begin! An amusing little industry tussle is causing quite a stir in the web world recently and it's an interesting debate to bring up. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, James Cameron "dissed" the recently released Piranha 3D, saying "that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D." He's definitely right about that and this isn't the first time he's said something like that. But, of course, his statements ruffled the feathers of the Piranha 3D filmmakers, so producer Mark Canton fired back with his own lengthy, for lack of a better word, attack on Cameron and his "mean-spirited and flawed analysis."
To kick things off, let's take a look at James Cameron's calm and reasonable statements from Vanity Fair:
"You've got to remember: I worked on Piranha 2 for a few days and got fired off of it; I don't put it on my official filmography. So there's no sort of fond connection for me whatsoever. In fact, I would go even farther and say that… I tend almost never to throw other films under the bus, but that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D. When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3-D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip. And that’s not what’s happening now with 3-D. It is a renaissance—right now the biggest and the best films are being made in 3-D. Martin Scorsese is making a film in 3-D. Disney’s biggest film of the year—Tron: Legacy—is coming out in 3-D. So it’s a whole new ballgame."
Glad to see him name drop Tron Legacy, especially calling it Disney's biggest film of the year - it deserves to be! Anyway, as for the response from Mark Canton, well, he wrote up a huge email in reply and instead of publishing the entire thing (which you can read on Deadline) because it's very long, I've highlighted a few of the key anti-Cameron portions for your reading (and potentially laughing) pleasure below. Canton states:
"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…"
"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 [sic] 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?"
"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…"
"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."
Ouch! While I do often admire a strong rebuttal to negative statements, I have to say I'm on Cameron's side this time. To be completely honest, Canton's response just seems like a Hollywood producer whining about someone saying their movie was bad, then attacking them in return. Why the Weinstein Company decided to officially send this out baffles me, but I guess Canton and the Weinstein Bros know they'll never work with Cameron, so why not? I'm not sure this will drum up any more buzz for Piranha 3D anyway, especially once people get a whiff of the fact that it's shabby converted 3D which Cameron does not approve of. Then again, maybe I'm the only one who actually cares about the (big) difference between real 3D and converted 3D?
I'm sure there won't be any more back 'n forth statements between these two, but it was fun while it lasted. I suggest you read both Cameron's statement, Canton's statement, watch Piranha 3D (if you haven't yet), and make up your own mind about whether the 3D was quality or not. I've been an anti-3D guy for a while (with Avatar and Tron Legacy and certain movies as exceptions) so I'm obviously going to side with Cameron, but I'm wondering if anyone actually thinks Canton makes a valid point at all. So what do you guys think?