Avatar Arrives! Can James Cameron Be King Again?

Titanic director James Cameron pilots his fantasy epic Avatar to screen. Will it sink or swim?

In April 2008, in a windowless Los Angeles warehouse where Howard Hughes built his airplanes some 70 years earlier, James Cameron, in a hockey jersey and jeans, was doing something élite directors do not do — holding a camera. "Why can't I see anything?" he yelled from an apparently empty warehouse floor to a small crew huddled over computer monitors in a corner. "Oh, oh, oh, I'm in the monster's head!" Cameron backed up, and a peek through his camera lens revealed blackness giving way to a thick and vivid rain forest where a tall, blue, alien version of Sigourney Weaver...

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