James Cameron is a Canadian filmmaker, philanthropist, and deep-sea explorer who began his career in Hollywood as a special-effects producer and miniature model maker for small film productions in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Cameron's first directorial credit was on the 1982 film Piranha II: The Spawning, after its producer fired the original director, citing creative differences. Although the same producer later fired Cameron for failing to deliver key shots, Cameron conceived of the idea for his first original project, The Terminator, while working on set.
After securing financing from Hemdale Pictures and distribution rights from Orion Pictures, James Cameron released The Terminator in 1984, a science-fiction film with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the eponymous role. The film dramatically exceeded the studio's expectations, earning $78 million dollars on a $6.5 million dollar budget. During this time, Cameron also helped Sylvester Stallone develop the script for Rambo: First Blood Part II.
Cameron's next independent project was Aliens, a sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 science-fiction/horror film Alien. Aliens was a commercial success and earned five Academy Award nominations, including one for its star Sigourney Weaver in the category of Best Actress. Critics praised the film's extensive use of strong female characters in a genre that typically focused on male experience. After Aliens, James Cameron wrote and directed The Abyss, a story about an otherworldly creature discovered in the Caribbean. The film's production helped ignite Cameron's interest in deep-sea exploration.
Critics regard Cameron's next film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, as one of the most exquisite action films ever made, given its sophisticated science-fiction storyline and jaw-dropping special effects. Despite being rated R, Terminator 2 became the highest-grossing film of 1991. The film is notable for casting Arnold Schwarzenegger, the villain in the first film, as the hero, alongside Linda Hamilton. Cameron's next film, True Lies, also starred Schwarzenegger.
After helping his then-wife Kathryn Bigelow write and develop the futuristic thriller Strange Days, Cameron began producing Titanic. He convinced Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox to give him funding to descend to the actual wreckage of the Titanic, instead of creating a scale replica. Titanic became the most profitable film ever made in 1997, a title it held for 12 years until the release of James Cameron's science-fiction/fantasy film Avatar. Cameron's next projects, both sequels to Avatar, are currently in development.
Study Guides on Works by James Cameron
Avatar is a science fiction movie, directed and produced by James Cameron, and distributed by 20th Century Fox on December 10 2009. The film is futuristic and set in a period where humans have began the colonization of Pandora, a moon planet,...
At the time of its release, James Cameron's Titanic was the most expensive film production ever mounted, and widely expected to be a critical and commercial failure. Negative rumors about the film began to swirl after the film's production, which...