Cameron: 'Avatar' success will take time

Filmmaker in a 'Zen state' at film's L.A. premiere Wednesday

James Cameron said he was in a "Zen state" going into this weekend's opening of "Avatar," though it's the weeks after that he has set his sights on.

"I'm totally relived that it's done," he said at Wednesday's Los Angeles premiere. "All my decisions are behind me."

Whether he was in the Zen state at the Hollywood & Highland afterparty, which saw the complex's ballroom transformed into the nightfall version of the movie's fictional planet, Pandora, is another question. The filmmaker didn't have moment's peace, facing a constant barrage of well-wishers that made it tough for the man to even get to his wife and family.

Among the congratulatory crowd were filmmakers Michael Mann, Bryan Singer, Michael Bay and Joe Carnahan as well as actors who have worked with Cameron in the past, such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Bill Paxton.

Cameron isn't going to have time to sit around and watch the boxoffice this weekend as he'll be flying to Tokyo to promote the film, but watching the numbers on opening weekend isn't his bag anyway, he said.

"I don't do that," he said. "Some filmmakers sit by the phone, get hour-by-hour, blow-by-blow, like it's Election Night or something. I just want, come Monday morning, tell me what we made. I want one number. One phone call."

About Town gallery  
Besides, he added, the opening weekend isn't going to prove whether the movie is a success.

"I don't think were going to know where we land for about three weeks. Everybody in our business is so programmed to have a final decision on Monday morning, but I think Monday won't mean anything. I think it will tell us what our opening was, but it won't tell us what we'll do the next weekend."

Although he said the movie will not do "Titanic" numbers at the boxoffice, Cameron compared "Avatar" to his billion dollar-grossing movie in the sense that the latter had a moderate opening of $28.6 million domestically in December 1997 but grew in subsequent weeks because of repeat female audiences, who responded with ardor to the love story. Cameron is very well aware that the response will be reflected in the weekends after.

The crowd at the premiere screening, held at Grauman's Chinese and adjacent cinemas, was enthusiastic, with some giving it a standing ovation. Many talked afterward of how the movie was more of an actual "experience" than just simply passive moviewatching.

"Does (the response) translate to positive word-of-mouth for women? Do we fall less because of the 3D and emotionality?" Cameron posited. "We don't yet. It's a big experiment right now."