Having already raked in $1 billion globally at the box office since its opening weekend, the Avatar franchise's long-awaited return to the land of Na'vi is already a runaway success, putting the blockbuster sequel closer to hitting its $2 billion goal. And while getting audiences to sit through Avatar: The Way of Water's mammoth three-and-a-half hour runtime should be considered a feat in its own right, director James Cameron has revealed that there was at roughly ten minutes of footage he ended up cutting due to gun violence.
In a new interview with Esquire Middle East, Cameron opened up about not wanting to glorify gunplay in his new sprawling sci-fi epic. "I had a bit of a crisis of faith as we were cutting the movie together. It was too violent. I wanted a balance between the beauty, the epiphany, the kind of spiritual aspect of the film, with the action, and I felt it had gotten a little too grim,” Cameron explained. “I wanted to get rid of some of the ugliness, to find a balance between light and dark. You have to have conflict, of course. Violence and action are the same thing, depending on how you look at it. This is the dilemma of every action filmmaker, and I’m known as an action filmmaker.”
The move might come as a bit of a surprise for a director perhaps best known for being behind some of the most gunplay-heavy action sequences in the history of film including Rambo and the Terminator franchise, but in the face of the ongoing gun violence epidemic in the United States, Cameron was left to wonder if its inclusion is ultimately more trouble than its worth in the grand scheme of things.
“I look back on some films that I’ve made, and I don’t know if I would want to make that film now. I don’t know if I would want to fetishize the gun, like I did on a couple of Terminator movies 30-plus years ago, in our current world. What’s happening with guns in our society turns my stomach," Cameron remarks.
Cameron pointed to his new home of New Zealand where he shot Avatar: The Way of Water as an example of gun control still being a possibility. "I’m happy to be living in New Zealand where they just banned all assault rifles two weeks after that horrific mosque shooting a couple of years ago.” The director also currently runs a plant-based meat, cheese and dairy company with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson.
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