News for 1/13/2007

Cameron forges into an alien, on-budget world

By Anthony Breznican

As he begins work on Avatar, his first feature film in a decade, James Cameron is applying some titanic lessons to the new sci-fi epic. The movie, announced Monday and due in theaters in summer 2009, is about an alien world where humans engage in remote conflict with a planet's alien population through remote-controlled bodies.

It's Cameron's first feature film since 1997's Titanic broke box-office records, and it will show off some of the state-of-the-art 3-D technology he has developed since then. He says he is mindful of lessons learned from Titanic.

Before it was the most successful movie of all time (with a worldwide box-office take of $1.8 billion), Titanic had a bedeviled water shoot and a ballooning budget ($200 million).

Then it swept through the box office, won 11 Oscars and set a new standard for blockbuster that no film has come close to matching. The headaches were forgotten in the glow of triumph. "It's like a pregnancy," says Tom Rothman, the Fox studio co-chair. "You only remember the good things."

But Cameron hasn't forgotten.

"I've spent the past five or six years really thinking through how we can do this on budget," Cameron says, recalling that his deep-sea dive documentaries and Dark Angel TV series were mostly problem-free.

Digital sets and photo-real animated landscapes, combined with motion-capture performances for the alien race similar to Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, have presented "a clever methodology for making a big, mainstream effects action picture" without many variables, he says.

The story, starring relative unknowns Sam Worthington (Hart's War) and Guess Who's Zoe Saldana, is about a soldier who is at first part of Earth's movement to conquer an alien planet and then joins the indigenous races' resistance fight when he falls in love.

Though partly paralyzed, the soldier is able to interact with the alien world by means of an avatar, which Cameron described as a "genetically engineered biological body that is remotely operated by a human consciousness."

Though the budget is still huge (Cameron says only that it's under $200 million), he says there is only a 31-day live-action shoot a fraction of Titanic's and less even than Terminator 2's.

"The clock is already running on the visual effects," he says, noting that some motion-capture work has begun, and live-action shooting begins in April.

The 2009 release date also gives Cameron a cushion to create his epic universe. Rothman notes that "all of the problems he had on Titanic came from rushing. We all learned from that, and we're taking our time. But I wish 2009 would come sooner."

News for 9/18/2006

Haven: An Interview with Zoe Saldana

News for 7/9/2006

Wright and Saldana Experience Blackout

Source: BlackFilm.com

Jeffrey Wright will join Zoe Saldana in writer-director Jerry LaMothe's Blackout, reports BlackFilm.com.

The film tracks the chain of events that unfolds in a forgotten Brooklyn neighborhood during the 2003 blackout.

Melvin Van Peebles, Latanya Richardson, Anthony Chisholm, Saul Rubinek, Jamie Hector (HBO's The Wire), and Sean Blakemore round out the cast. Shooting began this month in Brooklyn, New York.

News for 5/19/2005

The following article appeared in the April 2005 issue of InStyle Magazine

News for 3/27/2005

The following interview appeared in the March 2005 issue of Suede Magazine

News for 11/7/2004

The following article appeared in the November 2004 issue of Elle Magazine

News for 9/13/2004

Remake of 'Dinner' Being Filmed in N.J.

MADISON, N.J. (AP) - Shooting for a remake of a movie classic brought some Hollywood stars to New Jersey and to Madison's restored, 88-year-old train station.

The movie, tentatively titled "The Dinner Party," is based on the 1967 film, "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier, about a white couple whose daughter brings a black boyfriend home to dinner.

Columbia Picture's remake reverses the racial roles and stars Ashton Kutcher, Bernie Mac and Zoe Saldana. Kutcher plays Saldana's white boyfriend, and Mac has taken on Spencer Tracy's old role _ the father.

In scenes filmed Saturday, Kutcher's character leaves New Jersey to take a train back to New York City while Mac's character tries to persuade him to stay.

News for 6/1/2004

Zoe Saldana in Dinner Party

Jill Feiwell

Zoe Saldana ("Drumline") will join Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac in Columbia's "The Dinner Party."

"Barbershop 2" helmer Kevin Sullivan is directing the pic about an African-American father who has plenty to say about his daughter marrying a white boy.

Tall Trees and 3 Arts Entertainment are producing along with Columbia.

Saldana, who next co-stars in "The Terminal," will follow up "Dinner" with Plum Pictures' "Lucy," skedded for a July shoot in Gotham.

The following article appeared in the August 2002 issue of Upscale Magazine.