Thursday, June 04, 2009

James Cameron Signs to CAA - Ramifications for his Future Films?

Michael here.  Variety just reported that James Cameron, after 15 years of not being signed with an agency, has just inked a deal with CAA.

For those 15 years (since the release of True Lies), Cameron has been represented solely through his legal team at Greenberg Glusker.

So why seek agency representation at this point in time?  Agencies are responsible for "packaging" movie ideas for presentation to studios and other investors.  They work with their creative talent, production companies, and studio executives to put movies together with terms that all are happy with.  Once all the legal t's and i's are crossed and dotted, the agency typically takes 10% of each client's earnings.

So this has me wondering: Why would Cameron jump back into an agency again at this point in his career?  He has the clout to do something as huge and ambitious as Avatar with zero studio interference - Fox execs have said repeatedly they are staying away completely and letting him do his thing.  They respect him, and are ecstatic to have him in their camp - so I doubt he needs an agency's help getting Fox to greenlight his post-Avatar movie.

He also doesn't need anyone to find potential projects for him - he has plenty already lined up, including Battle Angel, The Dive, as well as an untitled historical project, which I speculate to be an epic depiction of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the deaths of 10,000 to 25,000 people.  This project was announced back in February 2004 when Cameron acquired the rights to the book "Ghosts of Vesuvius."  And he has referred to the project since then as well.

Variety mentions that Sanctum, a 3D underwater suspense/drama being developed / produced by Cameron for another director, was packaged by and is being shopped around to studios by CAA. But that still doesn't explain why Cameron personally signed with CAA.  A producer's job and an agent's job are very similar in the early stages-bringing the project together.  So although I could sort of understand Cameron paying a minimal fee to CAA to help package future projects (although with his pull at Fox and his respect in the industry at large, I doubt he would need this), I am still confused as to why he is signed as a CAA "client" - which seem to suggest that he would be receiving potential scripts from CAA for his consideration, would be relying on them to approach and negotiate with potential cast, writers and other talent, etc.

I'm very curious to learn more about his reasons for this decision, and what it may mean for his future movies.

What do you think?  Am I missing something? Any industry insiders that can shed some light?

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