James Cameron outlines ambitious future plans for streaming films

James Cameron
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James Cameron has laid out a pioneering path to get the best out of cinema and streaming, whilst keeping them distinct.

We’ve lost count of the number of times James Cameron has revolutionised cinema. In special effects, in blockbuster cinema, in visual effects, in 3D technology, in art and production design… we could go on, but we won’t, because even the internet has a size limit.

The point is, Cameron is one of those directors that film students will study years from now for the sweeping changes he’s bought to the film industry across the last four decades. So when he talks about what he intends to change next, no matter how left-field it may seem, it can’t be ignored.

Whilst chatting to Denis Villeneuve – perhaps the next generation’s answer to Cameron – in a Director on Director’s segment, Cameron outlined a rather ambitious plan to bring the same movie to both the cinema, and streaming services, whilst also keeping them almost entirely distinct. Intrigued? Just wait for it.

When talking about bringing a film to streaming, Cameron detailed his idea to tailor a project to the strengths of a streaming platform, namely the ability to tell long-form stories: “I think what we can see is an expanded form of cinema,” he explains. “I want to do a movie that’s six hours long and two and a half hours long at the same time. Same movie. You can stream it for six hours, or you can go and have a more condensed, roller coaster, immersive version of that experience in a movie theatre. Same movie. Just, one’s the novel, and one’s the movie. Why not? Let’s just use these platforms in ways that haven’t been done before”.

This sounds not unlike what Zack Snyder sort of ended up doing with Justice League, although he obviously didn’t mean to do it that way.

In reply, Villeneuve seemed cautious about the idea, noting that the subtle differences in storytelling would be too pronounced, saying “I think that we need this kind of massive, immersive, physical [experience] — the sound, with Atmos system or IMAX, it becomes physical. It’s something that cannot be reproduced at home. There’s nothing more powerful than to share an emotion together in a theatre. I think that as humans we need that kind of connection. I think we are not meant to be isolated. So I’m optimistic. I hope that the language of cinema will not become too much like TV.”

Whilst logic would perhaps point you towards Villeneuve’s stance here, it would be foolish to bet against Cameron, given the staggering success he’s enjoyed throughout the years, not to mention the many times he’s proved his doubters wrong. We’re interested to hear your thoughts on this take. Could this approach work as a future model to protect the cinematic experience? Let us know in the comments below.


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