Acclaimed director James Cameron has waded in to the issue of movie piracy, but says that movie theaters still have a lot of tricks up their sleeves to compete and beat piracy.
Talking to Variety, Cameron and long time collaborator and film producer Gale Anne Hurd discussed issues ranging from VR (not a fan, says Cameron) to Screening Room, the home streaming movie premier service (which Cameron spoke out against), the discussion focused on what movie experiences could be the next big thing. Cameron is especially qualified to speak on this issue, considering his legendary status in guiding cinema to its next logical technological leap (from the use of 3D effects in Terminator 2, to 3D in Avatar).
Cameron laments the fact that the exhibition community isn't always keeping up with the latest screening technologies, even when so much is at stake from competing services such as Screening Room, and of course, piracy.
"So the exhibition community still needs to step up to protect what they have. Now, what they have is still very powerful and it’s a bastion that I don’t think is going to be assailed by all these other platforms any time soon, because the group experience of a movie in passive mode where you can’t pause it and picture-in-picture and text over it and all this other stuff, where it’s just going to flood into your brain, is still going to be sacred, I think, indefinitely. It doesn’t mean there won’t be other alternatives," says Cameron.
These other platforms may include piracy, in which Cameron says the same strategy, to keep ahead of the game, will be key in battling the scourge.
"The biggest hedge against piracy is still the sanctity of the viewing experience in a movie theater — when it comes to movies. With 'The Walking Dead' or something like that, that’s not what you’re selling, but if we’re talking about movies and theatrical exhibition, keeping it great, making it a special experience, is still the biggest hedge against that. Because even if piracy was totally legal and download rates were much faster, you’re still watching it on a small platform, and it’s not that social experience," explained Cameron.
And the net result if theaters don't take up this advice?
"If we fail at creating a premium immersive experience in the theater, then the Napster-like downloading phenomenon will destroy the industry," warns Cameron.