'Piranha 3D' producer responds to James Cameron in a message that'd require 55 Twitter posts

James-Cameron-CantonImage Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images; Ryan Miller/Getty ImagesLesson one in how to handle criticism: If someone insults your film in 89 words, don’t spend 1,374 words fighting back. Especially if the movie in question is Piranha 3D, and especially if you’re fighting against James Cameron. Last week, Cameron told Vanity Fair that Piranha 3D was “an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D.” He continued: “It just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D. When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3-D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip.”

Piranha 3D producer Mark Canton responded Tuesday in an e-mail sent to reporters that not only circumvented Cameron’s initial point, but also engaged in much of the same behavior that Canton accused Cameron of. For instance, if you’re going to slam Cameron for name-dropping some notable directors, you shouldn’t mention that you watched Piranha 3D with J.J. Abrams, who “had nothing short of the fabulous, fun 3-D experience that the movie provides.” I agree that it was inconsiderate of Cameron to single out Piranha 3D. Cameron could have easily made his argument without condemning a specific movie. But if Canton thinks Cameron “should be taking the high road,” the producer shouldn’t declare that he found “the 3-D in Avatar to be inconsistent,” and that he had wished “Avatar had been more original in its storytelling.” Mr. Canton, hidden not that deep within your dissertation was the only response you needed to make. And it would have taken all of 11 words: “My sense is that Mr. Cameron has never seen Piranha 3D.

Canton’s unedited response, in its entirety, starts after the jump:

As a producer in the entertainment industry, Jim Cameron’s comments on VanityFair.com are very disappointing to me and the team that made Piranha 3D. Mr. Cameron, who singles himself out to be a visionary of movie-making, seems to have a small vision regarding any motion pictures that are not his own. It is amazing that in the movie-making process – which is certainly a team sport – that Cameron consistently celebrates himself out as though he is a team of one. His comments are ridiculous, self-serving and insulting to those of us who are not caught up in serving his ego and his rhetoric.

Jim, are you kidding or what? First of all, let’s start by you accepting the fact that you were the original director of PIRANHA 2 and you were fired. Shame on you for thinking that genre movies and the real maestros like Roger Corman and his collaborators are any less auteur or impactful in the history of cinema than you. Martin Scorcese made Boxcar Bertha at the beginning of his career. And Francis Ford Coppola made Dimentia 13 back in 1963. And those are just a few examples of the talented and successful filmmakers whose roots are in genre films. Who are you to impugn any genre film or its creators?

Having been deeply involved, as either an executive or as a producer, on Tim Burton’s original BATMAN and the first MEN IN BLACK, as well as 300, and now IMMORTALS, one of the things that has been consistent about all of the filmmakers involved in these landscape-changing global films is that, in each and every case, all of the directors were humbled by their predecessors, their colleagues and by their awareness of the great history of film that came before them. The enjoyment and the immersion of an audience in a movie theatre, as they had and will have with the above-mentioned films, and as audiences are experiencing with PIRNAHA 3D now, comes from the originality and the vision of the filmmaker, and not just from the creation of the technology. You as much as anyone certainly knows that there are many pieces to the puzzle. Going to the movies still remains, arguably, amongst the best communal experiences that human beings can share.

My sense is that Mr. Cameron has never seen PIRANHA 3D…certainly not in a movie theatre with a real audience. Jim, we invite you to take that opportunity and experience the movie in a theatre full of fans – fans for whom this movie was always intended to entertain.

Does Mr. Cameron have no idea of the painstaking efforts made by the talented young filmmaker Alex Aja and his team of collaborators? Clearly, and this one is a good bet, he has no clue as to how great and how much of a fun-filled experience the audiences who have seen the film in 3D have enjoyed. Those of us who have tried to stay in touch with the common movie audiences – the ones who really matter, the ones who actually still go to the theatre, put on the glasses, and eat the popcorn – take joy and pride in the fact that movies of all kinds, including PIRANHA 3D, have a place in filmmaking history – past, present and future. 3D unto itself is not a genre Jim, it is a tool that gives audiences an enhanced experience as they experience all kinds of movies. I believe Mr. Cameron did not see PIRANHA 3D either with any real audience or not at all. On opening weekend, I was in a Los Angeles theatre with a number of today’s great film makers including JJ Abrams, who actually had nothing short of the fabulous, fun 3D experience that the movie provides. I am fortunate enough to have worked on, and continue to work on, evolutionary movies in all formats from just simple good story telling, which still matters most of all, to CG movies to tent-pole size 3D movies, and genre 3D movies like PIRANHA 3D.

What it comes down to, Jim, is – that like most things in life – size doesn’t really matter. Not everyone has the advantage of having endless amounts of money to play in their sandbox and to take ten years using other people’s money to make and market a film….like you do. Why can’t you just count your blessings? Why do you have to drop Marty Scorsese’s or Tim Burton’s names, both gentlemen who I have personally worked with, and who have enjoyed great joy and success with movies of all genres and sizes well before the advent of modern 3D? Then as now, they were like kids in a candy store recognizing, far beyond your imagination, the possibilities of storytelling and originality.

For the record, before you just totally dismiss PIRANHA 3D and all, in your opinion, worthless genre movies that actually undoubtedly gave you the ability to start your career, you should know that PIRANHA 3D had an 82% “fresh” (positive) ratting on Rotten Tomatoes on opening day – a web site that all the studios, filmmakers and the public use as a barometer of what makes a quality film.

We know that PIRANHA 3D has not achieved a boxoffice that is on the level of many of Mr. Cameron’s successes. To date, PIRANHA 3D has earned over $30 million around the globe with #1 openings in several countries. And, as the “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes indicates, critics and many, many others have embraced and celebrated PIRANHA 3D for the fun and entertaining – and even smart – movie-going experience that it is.

Let’s just keep this in mind Jim….you did not invent 3D. You were fortunate that others inspired you to take it further. The simple truth is that I had nothing but good things to say about AVATAR and my own experience since I actually saw it and didn’t damn someone else’s talent publicly in order to disassociate myself from my origins in the business from which we are all very fortunate. To be honest, I found the 3D in AVATAR to be inconsistent and while ground breaking in many respects, sometimes I thought it overwhelmed the storytelling. Technology aside, I wish AVATAR had been more original in its storytelling.

We have to inspire, teach and mentor this next generation of filmmakers. It is garbage to suggest that any film or any filmmaker who cannot afford to work to your standards should be dissuaded from following his or her craft by not making 3D movies or not making movies like DISTRICT 9, for example, which probably cost the amount of AVATAR’s craft services budget, but totally rocked it in the movie theatre and in the marketplace. In that case, it was not a 3D movie. But had it been, it certainly would not have been any less original or impactful. The enormous worldwide success of AVATAR has been good in all respects for you, your financiers, your distributors and the industry, as well as for the movie going public. Jim, there is a difference between Maestro which is a word that garners respect, and Dictator or Critic which are words better left for others who are not in our mutual boat or on our team. You are one of the best, it is reasonable to think that you should dig deeper and behave like it. Young directors should be inspired by you, not publicly castigated by your mean-spirited and flawed analysis.

While we are all awed by your talents and your box office successes – and I compliment you on all of them – why don’t you rethink how you address films with which you are not involved? You should be taking the high road that is being travelled by so many of your peers, and pulling with them to ensure that we, as an industry, will have a continuum of talented filmmakers that will deliver a myriad of motion pictures both big and small, with 3D or any other technologies yet to come that will entertain audiences throughout the world. That is the challenge that we face. That is the future that we should deliver.

Please go see PIRANHA 3D in a theatre near you.

Comments (113 total) Add your comment
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  • Fitronic

    He so needs to chill and grab a soda or something.

    • Christina

      Yeah, and James Cameron needs to shut his arrogant mouth.

      • Jason C.

        I think Cameron was more responding to someone bringing up Pirahna 2 and the bad blood that left. At the same time, doing horror movies in 3D is something that was used to bring out the last bit of money you could get from a dying franchise. I don’t think he was referring to the quality of Pirahna, after all he never mentioned quality in the statement he made, he’s just referring to the connotations it brings and how the new craze in 3D needs to avoid that so it’s not seen as merely a gimmick.

      • Joe

        Cameron in my opinion doesn’t have a single thing against the movie Piranha 3D, he’s against the post-conversion of films to 3D. He’s said it many times that post-3d conversions do not capture the true essence of how 3D should be. Like it or not, the 3D in Avatar is MUCH different/better than 3D in Piranha. The producer is obviously a cocky idiot by name dropping all the people he’s worked with and the movies he’s worked on… I for one am 100% against 3D in general, it’s a cheap gimmick applied on almost every movie now that results in a more expensive night out, not to mention who knows what its doing to our brains. I at least am fortunate to have a big theater nearby that offers 2D versions for pretty much every 3D film that comes out nowadays. Not looking forward to the day it doesn’t…

      • UGH


        EXACTLY about Cameron. Let’s see him disappear for another 10 years and make an unneeded sequel to what’s probably the most overrated movie of our time that had great eye-candy but a mediocre storyline.
        If he wants to “wow” people, forget a sequel for now and forget about converting Titanic to 3D and make Battle Angel Alita instead.

      • Alex F

        Yep, Cameron is an arrogant POS. Not sure I’ve ever enjoyed one of his movies. Never saw Titanic or Avatar, cuase he seems to be all about the tech and nothing about the soul. F him.

      • Frank

        Agreed. I have not seen Piranha 3D, but I’m sure it’s a much better film than Avatar.

      • hecati

        I saw ads for Piranha 3D before Avatar was even in theatres, it didn’t just jump on the bandwagon and convert to 3D as many others films did (e.g. Clash of the Titans), it was always planned in 3D.

        What people like James Cameron don’t realize is that this film was supposed to be a homage to the cheesy horror movies of the 80s, which included lots of blood and T&A and sometimes 3D. The money was supposed to be ‘tongue in cheek’.

        I loved Piranha 3D and would recommend it to anyone and everyone. Personally, this is the only type of 3D that I enjoy. To me, 3D should be used in horror movies to have things flying at you and make you flinch (also seen in My Bloody Valentine 3D, which was also great).

        I honestly thought that Avatar was a glorified cartoon and did not live up to the hype, but I did think it was a nice romantic story (but it totally deserved to lose to The Hurt Locker).

        Just my two cents…

      • Mikos

        Absolutely. I have never seen a movie or television show and this is my first day on the internet but I already refuse to watch Avatar or Pirahna 3D since I just know that Pirahna 3D and Avatar are much better. And that cocky producer is so much worse/better than that arrogant Cameron.

      • kate

        Canton’s response is over the top and arrogant itself (come on, it was Piranha 3D – I loved it, but let’s not make it more than it was: a mindless bloody blast). But Cameron is way up his own ass on this one. The ONLY thing about Avatar that was worthwhile were the 3D visuals. Other than that, it was a basic shell of a story that was predictable from point A to point B (all conventions followed? check). I’d say that’s a poor way to use 3D too; to make a mediocre film look sensational. That way lies lazy storytelling.

    • Elysia

      Yeah, I mean, obviously this movie was MADE to be a B Horror Movie. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Taking yourself too seriously takes away the fun of the film!

      • jj

        Cameron is talking about 3D Conversion vs Native 3D.

        People are using 3D to make a quick buck but in the long run that could hurt 3D. Conversion looks awful compared to native 3D. You could only get people to pay extra for 3D once or twice. If they feel burned by a bad 3D conversion, then 3D could be hurt in the long run.

    • Rush

      Seriously tl;dr.

  • Terry

    Hey, I’m just glad to see that not everyone in Hollywodd is kowtowing to the great Cameron. I think cameron is just worried that by the time of the Avatar sequels, the 3D craze will become ho-hum and his profits will reflect that.

    • Sean

      he doesn’t need help with profits, judging by the titanic numbers his other films have experienced. i agree with him to a point – 3D is over-saturating the market, and it was unfortunate that the dumb-3D-film-du-jour was Piranha 3D (it could have easily been The Last Airbender a few months back). Either way, I get Cameron’s point.

      • liz

        “titanic numbers”? hahaha i see what you did there. oh sean, you slay me.

      • BG 17

        It’s true what Sean says – Cameron is not slamming Piranha 3D as a movie, but the process of converting to 3D after principal photography is done conventionally. I understand that it was not possible to use 3D cameras because of all the underwater shots, but the 3D effect is not the same.

      • BlackIrish4094

        I hope you are not the sean who contributed to the Classic TV Shows we don’t get list because if you are we already know you have no taste.

  • Dave

    Thank God someone finally decided to lay down the law with James Cameron. I would not even care if he never made another movie. The only reason his movies play a large role in cinematic history is because of their budgets and box office amounts. Not because of quality.

    • Rob

      So you’re saying that The Terminator or Aliens aren’t good films? You’re off your rocker. They both got considerable critical praise AS WELL AS good box office numbers. Go check some filmographies before you dole out knee-jerk reactionary remarks.

      • ZakThor

        @Rob well said

      • Niix Starkyller

        The Abyss: fine bit o’ moviemaking and storytelling. Strange Days: lovely script.

      • Brett

        Cameron’s a good director; lousy writer. And he’s an arrogant twit. 3-D won’t become the new “color” as he envisions it until they figure out how to do it without the need for glasses. And until then, he is not the arbiter of what should or should not be made as a 3-D movie.

      • therealeverton

        Well said Rob. Lousy writer? Please, Terminator 1 & 2, Aliens, The Abyss? Lousy writing, not at all, the opposite in fact. True Lies is well written too, for a fun action movie, as is Avatar. The only film he’s directed with anything less is Titanic and that’s average writing not poor writing. In fact several of the films are lauded as amongst the best sci-film ever written / directed and also as amongst the best films of the 20th century; A good job for such a lousy writer.

      • Brett

        Terminator and Aliens were 30 years ago and Avatar is basically a rehash from the plot of Aliens with tall smurfs.

      • Pat

        Terminator and Terminator 2 drew loosely from a number of sci-fi books and from two episodes of the original Outer Limits, which even Cameron admits. The Abyss was horribly written and lacked a script. The deep-sea stuff was awesome and the acting was good, but it had no real plot. That’s pretty much the only thing preventing it from being a really good movie. Calling True Lies good writing doesn’t even merit a response. Others had it right, Cameron is a great director and horrible writer.

      • teekay

        @Brett; whatever you want to say about James Cameron as a person you can’t deny that Terminator and Aliens set a standard for action/sci fi that no film since has been able to match, with the exception of the first Matrix film.

      • Brett A.


        Terminator and Aliens didn’t set standards, they followed them. Aliens followed Alien by Ridley Scott and both of them followed the standard set by George ‘Star Wars’ Lucas.

  • WhitneyD

    While Canton did overreact- James Cameron needs his ego checked. I read interview after interview last week where he essentially whined about how Avatar fans were robbed because of how tightly booked 3D releases are. It didn’t come off as being gracious to the fans- but whining about his cash cow not being able to continue on unchecked.

    • Jason C.

      I don’t know what interviews your reading, because I’ve also read quite a few and never heard him whine about Avatar fans getting robbed because of the tight booking of 3D releases.

      • Dave

        He does indeed talk about that in the Vanity Fair interview that this article references. He claims Alice in Wonderland and How to Train Your Dragon basically took all of Avatar’s 3D screens, and how some fans weren’t able to get the 3D experience of Avatar because of it.

      • Brett

        That was one of the principal motivating factors behind the re-release of “Avatar” last week. Unfortunately for Cameron, the dismal $4 million it drew shows that the public is now “Avatar”-ed out.

    • Chris

      You can say whatever about James Cameron but, he has never forgotten his fans.

  • Xander

    The response of Canton was too long perhaps, but it was eloquent and smart. I disagree with the writer of the article (who sounds like a butt kissing sycophant) and side with Canton. James Cameron should have been less eager to pounce, I believe.

    • David

      I agree. I’ve enjoyed most of Cameron’s films but I honestly thought that Avatar was overrated. The effects were spectacular but unlike some of his earlier films the writing was far from original and somewhat weak. Also let’s be honest, the 3D hype started as an in your face, make you jump, genre. While Cameron took it to the next level I felt that the 2D viewing had the same effect. In fact it made the weak storyline even more evident. I feel the 3D hype has gotten way out of control and quite costly at the theaters. Piranha 3D, while not a Schindlers List when it comes to writing, was entertaining and utilized the 3D effect more for what it was originally meant to do. At least it was filmed with 3D in mind as opposed to “other” films that simply added it in to cash in.

  • ensimpson

    Four words to sum up both diatribes: “We have small penises.”

    • BlackIrish4094

      You win for the stupidest comment today. Look forward to you playing again next time.

      • Lord Potato

        I like you Black Irish, you’re essentially just here to mock the lame comments which is really the only point to commenting in the first place.

      • BlackIrish4094

        @Lord Patato, I just try to do my part, some posters make it easy, lol.

  • Bruno

    I have no comment on the personalities involved, but I do have strong feelings about the 3D in Piranha. It was awful, it was obviously tacked on afterward and I agree with Cameron that if studios keep doing that, it will kill any interest in what should be a great tool that gives movie makers more scope to entertain and tell stories.

    • Brett A.

      Newsflash Bruno: 3D has been around since the 1950’s and got its beginnings in B Films. It’s not going anywhere, no matter how bad the film is. And some will argue that 3D or not, Avatar still sucks.

  • Kevin

    And here I thought my hatred of James Cameron had reached its apex after watching that bloated Avatar P.O.S. But apparently no, the hatred is still climbing.

    • Chris

      I am right there with you. I thought mine had reached the peak when he endorsed eco-terrorism. I was mistaken, I can indeed hate him more.

  • Lunna

    They’re both right.

  • Dave

    The producer of Piranha did kinda get way too bent out of shape over this, but honestly he does make a few good points.
    Plus, Cameron gets on my nerves. His ego is massive and he acts like 3D is the greatest thing to happen to cinema. If you read his Vanity Fair interview, at one point he says that the biggest and best films these days are being made in 3D. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard. Case in point: Inception.
    Also, WhitneyD makes a good point about him whining about people being “robbed” of seeing Avatar in 3D because 3D screens are tightly booked. Umm, there was PLENTY of time for people to go see Avatar in 3D if they wanted to before the release of the other high profile 3D films like Alice in Wonderland and How to Train Your Dragon. He says those two movies basically took all of Avatar’s 3D screens. Last time I checked, Avatar was released in theaters nearly 3 months before both Alice and Dragon. Is he trying to say that 3 months isn’t a big enough time frame for people to have gotten their butts to a 3D movie theater? He’s so full of crap.

  • Jason C.

    I love how no one really seems to be understanding what Cameron was saying. Cameron never mentioned the quality of Pirahna 3D in his comments about 3D, what he was referring to is how he sees 3D as a revolution, not some gimmick to drive ticket prices. In the 70’s and 80’s a lot of sequels to dead franchises were made with 3D just to drive ticket prices. By taking a sequel to a franchise that is dead and placing it in 3D you’re setting this idea in the public mindset that all this is is about gimmick, and filmmakers like Cameron and Scorsese are not using 3D in that way.

    • bamalam


    • Brett

      No, he was saying exactly what Canton called him out for saying. And don’t fool yourself that 3-D is anything more than a gimmick, no matter who’s sitting in the director’s chair.

    • Brett A.

      Well, if he thinks 3D is a revolution that shouldn’t be wasted on B films he needs to get his head checked because 3D has been around for half a century and got its beginnings in B-films.

  • Neptuny

    Wow. Now I kind of want to see ‘Pirahna 3-D.’ =/ And go, Mark Canton! Nicely worded response to Cameron’s rather holier-than-thou comments.

  • Mike

    I couldn’t even finish Canton’s essay. Jeez, is he really that upset about it?
    I could care less about James Cameron’s ego. Don’t know him personally, just the few paragraphs I read from random movie web sites. If you don’t like his movies, fine. But don’t say he is awful because of his ego or how he words things. That’s like saying Roman Polanski is an awful director for the stuff he did. Try to separate the film maker from the person (again, we don’t really know him.)
    But at the end of the day I would much rather see a James Cameron movie than a Mark Canton.

    • kate

      “Aliens” James Cameron or “Avatar” James Cameron? He even went back and wrecked Aliens with his stupid directors cut (we need to show the happy and playing children of the settlement before the alien attack; cue violins, and… emotionally manipulate!). Dude is a much better director when someone has a hold of that ego and reins him in. His director’s cuts are so indulgent. And since he hasn’t made a great movie since Terminator 2, his cred has pretty much fallen off with me. I’m sure he cries buckets into his billions every night knowing that.

  • Ted

    I think James Cameron Totally missed the point of Piranha3D. it’s SUPPOSED to be campy. It’s a nostalgia film that’s supposed to remind you of those 80’s bad 3d movies. He need to take himself less seriously and remember how fun movie going is

  • Randall Burns

    This is ridiculous. Cameron has all the money in the world so why doesn’t he just shut up? If I’m not mistaken didn’t he direct the sequel to the original “Piranha,” entitled “Piranha 2: The Spawning?” If I’m mistaken, sorry but I don’t think I am. Fact is “Piranha 3D” is a fun summer movie that succeeds in what it intended…fun, nothing too serious and yes, a throwback to the films of the 80s. Isn’t it funny that all the filmmakers of today are doing just that…remaking films of the 80s. Whereas “Avatar’s” use of 3D was brilliant, the story itself has been told l00 times before using different topics. The best film Cameron ever made was “Aliens.” I would put that above “Titanic” and “Avatar.”

    • Niix Starkyller

      So, the more money you have, the less opinion you’re allowed to have. Got it. Thanks for the info.

      • Brett

        No, the more money you make off a CGI rip-off of “Ferngully the Last Rainforest,” the more arrogant and elitist you’re going to sound when you slam someone else’s movie because it “cheapens” a movie gimmick like 3-D.

      • whatevs

        So all you chose to read were his first two sentences.

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