AVATAR Director James Cameron Pulled The Ultimate Power Move When Studio Wanted To Trim Movie's Run-Time

In a new interview, legendary director James Cameron reveals that he clashed with 20th Century Fox execs over Avatar's run-time, reminding them where their bread was buttered when they asked for cuts.

There's probably only a handful of directors working today who could pull a power move like this, and James Cameron is one of them!

During an interview with The New York Times (via SFFGazette.com), the legendary filmmaker revealed that 20th Century Fox execs wanted to trim down Avatar's run-time by removing a key sequence. Cameron was adamant that the scene stay in the movie, and ensured the higher-ups came around to his way of thinking by dropping them a gentle reminder that the studio owes a lot of its success to the popularity of his films, particularly Titanic.

“I think I felt, at the time, that we clashed over certain things,” Cameron said. “For example, the studio felt that the film should be shorter and that there was too much flying around on the ikran — what the humans call the banshees. Well, it turns out that’s what the audience loved the most, in terms of our exit polling and data gathering. And that’s a place where I just drew a line in the sand and said, ‘You know what? I made ‘Titanic.’ This building that we’re meeting in right now, this new half-billion dollar complex on your lot? ‘Titanic’ paid for that, so I get to do this.’”

Despite its hefty run-time, Avatar would ultimately make over $2 billion for the studio and remains the highest grossing film of all time at the worldwide box office (unadjusted for inflation), so we'd say those execs made a smart move by trusting Cameron's instincts!

“And afterward, they thanked me,” he added. “I feel that my job is to protect their investment, often against their own judgment. But as long as I protect their investment, all is forgiven.”

Cameron has developed something of a reputation for being "difficult" to work with over the years, but it's impossible not to be impressed by the cojones it took to pull this off!

The first Avatar is returning to theaters on Sept. 23 in IMAX and 3D formats ahead of the release of first sequel Avatar: The Way of Water on Dec. 16.

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