LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As Hollywood directors increasingly make their films in 3-D, the biggest financial winner is turning out to be one of their own: director James Cameron.
Cameron has emerged as one of Hollywood's hottest entrepreneurs by cashing in on the 3-D technology he created for "Avatar", which ranks as the highest-grossing film with a worldwide box office take of $2.8 billion.
Cameron also directed the second-highest grossing film of all time, the nautical disaster-romance starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, "Titanic", which is set to return to theaters in 3-D on Wednesday.
Graphic on Cameron's hits http://link.reuters.com/xen47s
As George Lucas set the standard for special effects with "Star Wars", Cameron, 57, is setting the bar for 3-D technology with cameras he created and making millions for himself in the process by renting them to other film and TV directors.
The Cameron Pace Group, which the director formed 12 years ago with camera guru Vince Pace, last year generated revenue "in the ballpark of" $58 million, said its Chief Operating Officer O.D. Welch.
That is a fraction of what Lucas' ILM special-effects house generates, but as 3-D productions grow Cameron Pace is expected to as well. So far, it has rented cameras and other gear to more than two dozen movies, nine concert films and 140 sports broadcasts.
Hollywood's 3-D conversion movement may help Cameron erase his past failed efforts at being an inventor-entrepreneur. The eccentric and sometimes combative director, along with late special-effects maven Stan Winston, started Digital Domain in 1993 to compete with Lucas' ILM special-effects house.
Cameron left the company in 1998 after clashing with investors that included IBM and Cox Communications over the strategic direction, according to Rebecca Keegan's Cameron biography "The Futurist."
As a result, Digital Domain never held its planned initial public offering.
"I had begun to dislike the dynamic," Cameron told Keegan. "When it was clear that the very controls I needed fell mostly in the conflict-of-interest category, it obviated the upside for me."
Cameron was not available for a comment. On March 25, he journeyed to the bottom of the ocean, taking 3-D cameras with him seven miles beneath the Pacific.
The failure of Digital Domain has not dimmed Cameron's star among Hollywood moguls, said Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.
"Entrepreneurs are judged by their successes not their failures," Katzenberg said. "What he's done is build an incredible business out of the 3-D technology he developed."
Housed in three non-descript buildings near the Burbank airport, Cameron Pace collects money every step in the 3-D movie-making process. It rents its Fusion 3-D rig and other equipment to film producers such as Michael Bay, who used it for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon", for up to $3 million a film.
TV productions, such as CBS's coverage of the U.S. Open tennis championship, pay less than $100,000 apiece for the seven or eight cameras it typically can use to shoot an event, said CBS head of operations Ken Aagaard.
Cameron is so serious about the production quality of his 3-D cameras that his company bestows a seal of approval, as it did with Martin Scorsese's film "Hugo".
That certification allows a studio to promote the quality of its films to investors and potential distributors, said Lyndsay Harding, chief financial officer of Evergreen Films, the first studio to be CPG certified.
Evergreen will negotiate with Cameron Pace on how it will be paid, she said. Evergreen used Cameron Pace equipment to produce "Walking with Dinosaurs" that News Corp's Fox is distributing next year.
Another as yet untapped revenue stream could be harvested by certifying 3-D TV sets and other electronic products, said Welch. Cameron Pace may also consider licensing its eight patents, or the dozen more that are pending.
In addition to his 3-D camera business, Cameron is helping design a new Avatar-themed area of Walt Disney Co's Animal Kingdom park in Orlando. For his work with Disney's Imagineering unit and consulting on its construction, Cameron will share in the royalties from the merchandise, rides or anything else they create.
The majority of the royalties will go to Fox, which distributed the film. Disney hopes the area proves to be successful enough to expand to its other parks.
What draws a customer to Cameron's company continues to be his uncontrollable lust for all things 3-D. Michael Lewis, chief executive of RealD, a company that licenses 3-D projectors and glasses to theaters, was stunned when Cameron, a RealD board member, nearly became a production assistant during filming of the movie "Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away".
"I look up," Lewis recalled, "and there's James Cameron hanging 80 feet above the ground."
(Reporting by Ronald Grover; Editing by Peter Lauria and Maureen Bavdek)
James Cameron, the Oscar-winning filmmaker of the two highest-grossing films … Full Story »James Cameron Completes Journey to Ocean's Deepest Point
ABC News (RSS)
[ [ [['A JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas', 3]], 'http://yhoo.it/GV9zpj', '[Related: View photos of the JetBlue plane in Amarillo]', ' ', '630', ' ', ' ', ], [ [['Afghan security forces and police killed three', 3]], 'http://yhoo.it/H9BcJE', '[Related: Bales\' wife on his alleged shooting: \'He would not do that\']', ' ', '630', ' ', ' ', ], [ [['looking for fireworks between the opposing camps', 16]], 'http://yhoo.it/GSvEsj', '[RELATED:\‘It’s going to be a circus\’: Activists begin protests outside Supreme Court]', ' ', '630', ' ', ' ', ], [ [['entirely respectable way to put off the searing constitutional controversy', 8]], 'http://yhoo.it/GE6jSh', '[RELATED: Obama\’s health care law passed 2 years ago, but where are we now\?]', ' ', '630', ' ', ' ', ], [ [['Witnesses said the gunman pulled up on a black scooter', 7]], 'http://yhoo.it/GzwOIW', '[Related: New York police tighten security at Jewish sites]', ' ', '630', ' ', ' ', ], [ [['test Zimmerman for alcohol or drugs', 11]], 'http://yhoo.it/Gzn6VF', '[Related: White House says Trayvon Martin is local issue]', ' ', '630', ' ', ' ', ], [ [['Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood', 7]], 'http://yhoo.it/GUovUP', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/2/61/261d2c36bccf0971c2734a4d4398aa5a.jpeg', '512', ' ', 'AP/David Goldman', ], [ [['Can you create commerce in order to regulate it', 9]], 'http://yhoo.it/GSgtu8', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/7/78/778e2416573870cd705774e92403447d.jpeg', '630', ' ', 'AP/Charles Dharapak', ], [ [['associated with such a small earthquake', 4]], 'http://yhoo.it/GTco9z', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/0/b4/0b493c1a47b6e3f97f8f48a2b251d7d4.jpeg', '630', ' ', 'AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger', ], [ [['Fox News host Geraldo Rivera sparked outrage', 3]], 'http://yhoo.it/GKMVTk', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/2/7c/27c7367bc512d233ae1790b320a5e92c.jpeg', '630', ' ', 'AP Photo/John Minchillo', ], [ [['The charges signed against Bales include', 1]], 'http://yhoo.it/wZT5zV', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/7/a0/7a07c51b2aa0f39b1a23355046d13870.jpeg', '512', ' ', 'AP Photo/DVIDS\, Spc\. Ryan Hallock\, File', ], [ [['George Zimmerman, if I had a son', 6]], 'http://news.yahoo.com/photos/thousands-protest-fla-teen-death-1332387124-slideshow/', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/os/152/2012/03/22/d761a49f3fcc99080a0f6a70670053cd-jpg_150905.jpg', '500', ' ', 'AP Photo/John Minchillo', ], [ [['Mohamed Merah', 10], ['prosecutor Francois Molins', 5]], 'http://news.yahoo.com/photos/four-dead-in-french-jewish-school-shooting-1332173151-slideshow', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/cv/ip/ap/default/120321/2012_03_21t151508z_425380421_gm1e83l1sqs01_rtrmadp_3_france_shootings_raid.jpg', '630', ' ', 'REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier', ], [ [['Shortly after he wrapped up his victory remarks', 2]], 'http://news.yahoo.com/photos/4-straight-romney-wins-washington-gop-caucus-1330835515-slideshow/', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/3/e9/3e9b0082c3c3111dcc19e3527ae94cc7.jpeg', '500', ' ', 'AP Photo/Steven Senne', ], [ [['best understands the problems of average Americans', 2]], 'http://news.yahoo.com/photos/4-straight-romney-wins-washington-gop-caucus-1330835515-slideshow/', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/3/e9/3e9b0082c3c3111dcc19e3527ae94cc7.jpeg', '500', ' ', 'AP Photo/Steven Senne', ], [ [['Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery', 7]], 'http://yhoo.it/GB2RVy', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/os/152/2012/03/20/photo-1332257995646-4-0-jpg_171722.jpg', '630', ' ', 'AFP', ], [ [['xxxxxxxxxxxx', 11]], 'http://news.yahoo.com/photos/russian-grannies-win-bid-to-sing-at-eurovision-1331223625-slideshow/', 'Click image to see more photos', 'http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/1/56/156d92f2760dcd3e75bcd649a8b85fcf.jpeg', '500', ' ', 'AP', ] ]
[ [ [['measure all but certain to fail in the face of bipartisan', 4]], '28771014', '0' ], [ [['matter what you do in this case', 5]], '28759848', '0' ], [ [['presume laws are constitutional', 7]], '28747556', '0' ], [ [['has destroyed 15 to 25 houses', 7]], '28744868', '0' ], [ [['short answer is yes', 7]], '28746030', '0' ], [ [['opportunity to tell the real story', 7]], '28731764', '0' ], [ [['entirely respectable way to put off the searing constitutional controversy', 7]], '28723797', '0' ], [ [['point of my campaign is that big ideas matter', 9]], '28712293', '0' ], [ [['As the standoff dragged into a second day', 7]], '28687424', '0' ], [ [['French police stepped up the search', 17]], '28667224', '0' ], [ [['Seeking to elevate his candidacy back to a general', 8]], '28660934', '0' ], [ [['The tragic story of Trayvon Martin', 4]], '28647343', '0' ], [ [['Karzai will get a chance soon to express', 8]], '28630306', '0' ], [ [['powerful storms stretching', 8]], '28493546', '0' ], [ [['basic norm that death is private', 6]], '28413590', '0' ], [ [['songwriter also saw a surge in sales for her debut album', 6]], '28413590', '1', 'Watch music videos from Whitney Houston ', 'on Yahoo! Music', 'http://music.yahoo.com' ], [ [['keyword', 99999999999999999999999]], 'videoID', '1', 'overwrite-pre-description', 'overwrite-link-string', 'overwrite-link-url' ] ]