This James Cameron film could have become a huge work of science fiction – but it never saw the light of day

This James Cameron film could have become a huge work

In the exhibition dedicated to James Cameron at the Cinémathèque Française until the end of the year, we learn that the director had to abandon a film project which could have forever marked science fiction.

Over nearly six decades, James Cameron has established himself as an essential Hollywood director. Thanks to its immense successes at the box office already (Avatar 1 And 2, Titanic…), but also because he revolutionized the blockbuster genre with all his films praised by the public and critics (Terminator, Abyss…). It is therefore no surprise that the Cinémathèque française in Paris is currently dedicating an exhibition to him exploring the themes of his work using drawings sometimes dating back to his childhood, accessories, costumes and sketches.

During the exhibition, you can discover James Cameron’s influences and delve into his mind to understand how his ideas were born. But the exhibition also aims to decipher a work which never saw the light of day, and which, when we discover the ideas and artistic concepts deployed, nevertheless had all the assets to be the director’s first great success. , but also a huge science fiction film.

Xenogenesis – Planet Mesa by James Cameron, 1978 © Avatar Alliance Foundation © James Cameron

From 1977 to 1979, James Cameron and his friend Randy Frakes worked on a science fiction film project entitled Xenogenesis (meaning “of extra-terrestrial origin”). In order to obtain financing, the filmmaker produced several illustrations and developed the story: a love story in space between a man and an extra-terrestrial who explore several planets on which they face different dangers.

Unfortunately, this feature film will ultimately never see the light of day, due to failure to find financing and a producer. James Cameron, however, explains in an interview with Le Parisien that he feels “no regrets” about this aborted project, which nevertheless looks great when you visit the exhibition. Because James Cameron exploited several ideas from Xenogenesis in these other films, like Aliens Or Avatar.

It is especially in the latter that we find several concepts of this first idea for a SF film: the aerial sharks of Xenogenesis gave the Banshees of Pandora, but also the blue-skinned extra-terrestrials or even creatures that inhabit the planet of the Na’Vi. The superb illustrations of what could have become Xenogenesis, as well as an extract from a battle lasting a few minutes, are however on view at the Cinémathèque française until January 5, 2025.