The entertainment mogul moves on from ''Apollo 13'' to new pursuits

By Anne Thompson
April 05, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

Art director, screenwriter, producer, and director James Cameron has worn many berets over his 20-year film career. Now that his visual-effects studio, Digital Domain, has garnered its second Academy Award nomination, for Apollo 13, Cameron is eyeing a few new chapeaus.

Effects Whiz: The entrepreneurial three-year-old Digital Domain — which Cameron cofounded with former Industrial Light and Magic exec Scott Ross and Oscar-winning creature creator Stan Winston — is challenging the industry dominance of George Lucas’ mammoth 21-year-old ILM. And with $30 million to $50 million from new partner Cox Enterprises, Hollywood’s first all-digital studio is expanding. ”Digital Domain needs money to compete with ILM,” says a senior exec at MCA/Universal. ”They undercut ILM by $2.5 million on Apollo 13 — and brought it in on budget.” Currently designing effects for such upcoming features as The Island of Dr. Moreau and Chain Reaction, Digital Domain is also prepping for Cameron’s $75 million Titanic, set to start filming in June. Cameron says he relishes using Digital Domain’s ”high-end exotic tools in the service of historical fiction, not science fiction. [They’re] becoming standard production tools, like a crane or a Steadicam.”

Multimedia Mogul: Digital Domain’s year-old New Media division has produced two CD-ROMs for Christmas 1996 release: Mattel Media’s Barbie Fashion Designer, which lets kids create and print out doll outfits on computer; and the surfer game Ted Shred. The Interactive Book of Virtues, based on William Bennett’s story collection, is due in early 1997.

E-Ride Designer: Cameron has morphed his hit Terminator 2 into an attraction at Universal Studios’ Orlando, Fla., theme park. Opening in May, the 12-minute, $60 million T2 3D captures Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Edward Furlong in 65 mm 3-D and projects them on huge screens synchronized with live actors on a stage. ”So you’re glancing back and forth,” Cameron says impishly. ”’That’s not Arnold. Is that Arnold?”’