Considering Life After ‘Avatar’ With Director James Cameron

It’s no secret that director James Cameron has been working for years to bring “Avatar” to the big screen. But now that it’s in theaters, what can we expect from him next? There was a 13 year gap between “Titanic” and “Avatar,” a period during which Cameron kept busy as a producer and documentary filmmaker but steered clear of the director’s chair.

Like any true artist, however, his mind was always in motion. Cameron’s got plans within plans, built on top of plans and ready to spawn new plans. There are a lot of ideas, a lot of potential projects that he could pursue next. And as much as he tries to avoid talking about what’s to come when what’s new and fresh is still on the table, he was kind enough before the release of “Avatar” to sit down and guide MTV’s Josh Horowitz through some of what he’s got cooking for the coming years.

While Cameron wouldn’t specify exactly what he’s going to move onto next, an adaptation of the Japanese manga “Battle Angel Alita” very nearly edged out “Avatar” on Cameron’s short list of what to do next. Now that he’s got the tech in place, there’s a better shot of seeing it come to fruition.

“Now we see it’s good to have done ’Avatar’ first before ’Battle Angel,’ because the tricky scenes are where you’re blending live-action photography, stereoscopic photography and CG,” he said.

Don’t get too excited though, “Battle Angel” fans. There’s still a ways to go on this one. “We’re not that far down the line,” he continued. “We have a very good script and we’ve done a lot of production design. We’ve done about a year of production design and we’ve put together an art reel that shows the arc of the film.”

Many have speculated that “The Dive” might be next. Cameron has long been a fan of waterborne adventures, though this one falls a bit closer to “Titanic” than “The Abyss.” It is a love story, the true, tragic tale of a Cuban scuba diver and the woman he falls for. One thing working in “The Dive”’s favor is it’s cost, particularly in comparison to “Avatar.”

“[’Dive’ is] quite a modestly budgeted film,” he said. “This is a film about a three-way relationship. There’s a man, a woman, and the ocean and they both have very different relationships with the ocean.”

There are also two potential remakes on Cameron’s plate: “Forbidden Planet” and “Fantastic Voyage.” The more uncertain of the two is “Forbidden.” A rumor emerged last year that this is something Cameron was looking at; more recently it came out that “Babylon 5″ creator J. Michael Straczynski put together a script that the “Avatar” director really liked.

The word from the man himself is that he loves “Forbidden Planet,” but he’s not made any commitments. “That’s a project that I’m actively involved in, but I haven’t made any decisions about it yet,” he told us.

As for “Fantastic Voyage,” Josh spoke with Cameron and producer Jon Landau on the red carpet at the London premiere of “Avatar.” The plan for now is to shoot the movie in 3-D, with Cameron acting as producer. While that could certainly change, it seems more likely that we’ll see another director come aboard.

One thing we definitely won’t be seeing is a Cameron-directed superhero flick. There was a time when he would have stepped up to take “Spider-Man”, but that time has long since passed. Really, Cameron sees the playing field as being too crowded for him to contribute his own super-powered epic.

“I feel there are too many superhero movies right now,” Cameron explained. “I think Hollywood’s in a bit of a rut. They’ve done the good ones and they’re starting to get down to the second and third tier of superheroes — the guys that would not be asked to speak at the annual superhero dinner.”

What would you like to see Cameron take on next?