James Cameron Calls Partnership With Disney “An Arranged Marriage” in Candid Conversation

James Cameron and Disney

Director James Cameron recently opened up.candidly about what he calls an “arranged marriage” with Disney.  The ‘Avatar’ Director has been daunted in the past, no one expected ‘Titanic, to be a success and it ended up becoming the highest grossing ever, (you’re welcome, Mr. Cameron. As a 7th grade girl full of …whatever 7th grade girls are full of…I saw it in theaters 8 times).  The film held that title for over a decade.  Then along came Avatar and smashed ‘Titanic’s’ record in 2009. ‘Avatar’, of course, is another James Cameron masterpiece.  It holds that title to this day, but he’s hoping (with Disney’s help) to unseat that achievement and blow past it with ‘Avatar: The Way of Water‘. 


Credit: Disney

Cameron made ‘Avatar’ for Fox in 2009. Before the sequel was filmed, Disney had bought Fox which put the director directly in the hands of the Mouse. How did he feel about that? Positive…for the most part.

“We sort of were led to believe that the ‘Avatar’ overall was one of the jewels in the crown of what Disney was acquiring, so we expected them to be leaning forward and wanting to see what we were all about,” says Cameron. “They were excited by the potential of the new films, especially as it was planned out to be a series of films, a saga over time played out in four movies.”

James Cameron arranged marriage with Disney

Credit: Wrapped

Cameron excitedly went to work with Disney. In a recent interview he said, “They knew exactly what they were buying on paper, but they didn’t really know us as a production company, and they didn’t really have the really granular ins and outs of how an ‘Avatar’ movie gets made.” So he invited Disney executives on set and was transparent with them about everything that was happening. They developed a good working relationship.  

Then Bob Iger left the company and the director was subject to the creative direction (or lack thereof) of Bob Chapek. “Of course, we were always curious about what the new emphasis would be, and whether we’d get caught in the vortex of Disney+ and talking about shortening windows and all that sort of thing,” he said referring to the extremely short length of time Disney has allowed movies to run exclusively in theaters before sending them to Disney+. This, in Cameron’s eyes, would’ve been disastrous for the film because due to budget overruns, the film needs repeat theatrical views to be a success. 

James Cameron and Disney

Credit: Showbiz Cheat Sheet

Luckily, by the time ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ debuted, Iger was back on top. “I don’t want to overplay it, but [Iger and I] always sort of saw eye to eye, so we’re definitely pretty happy with the way things are working out right now,” he states. “For an arranged marriage, I would say it has gone about as well as you could conceivably ask for.” 

The film is currently smashing records but not uet where it needs to be. The film currently has grossed $1.5 billion worldwide, which is no small chunk of change but considering the fact that it had a $2 billion budget, it’s still got a long way to go. You can see ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ in theaters now. 


About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.