James Cameron Shocks Everyone By Completing New Version Of Classic Movie

By Kevin C. Neece | Updated

james cameron abyss

According to Variety, James Cameron made a surprise announcement on Wednesday that the 4K restoration of The Abyss was completed. The filmmaker dropped the news at Beyond Fest in Los Angeles during the Q&A section following a screening of his underwater epic’s Special Edition, a 2 hour and 51 minute version that is not often seen.

James Cameron announced at the recent Beyond Fest that the 4k version of 1989’s The Abyss has been completed.

Answering a question from the audience, Cameron shared that the 4K upgrade he announced last year was finished some time ago and that he expects it to be released “in a couple of months or something like that.”

James Cameron confirmed that the 4K version of The Abyss contains extra material, and that it will be available both in physical media and on streaming at the same time. Though the film certainly holds an important place in the history of visual effects, it was not as successful at the time as most of his films.

Addressing this, Cameron indicated that the film might be a bit crowded with themes and plot elements, saying that at the time, he was “being pulled in different directions.” While the concept of the film, he said, was based fairly narrowly on the idea of an underwater version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, he could offer little reason for why he seemed to overcomplicate the project except that “it made sense to me at the time.”

James Cameron almost died during the making of The Abyss.

james cameron
Ed Harris in The Abyss (1989)

James Cameron almost died during the making of The Abyss. He recounted the story at the festival, relating that he was shooting underwater action while wearing heavy weights to keep himself from floating as he operated the camera, meaning that when he ran out of air, he found himself rather trapped. The problem was that no one was watching what he was doing, busy with lighting and other production concerns between shots.

James Cameron is not only a filmmaker but a technician and inventor.

To make matters worse, James Cameron related, Al Geddings, who served as underwater cinematographer on The Abyss, had lost his hearing in a diving accident and couldn’t hear the director using his last breath to call the cinematographer’s name. Cameron managed to free himself from the weights and was then spotted by the rescue divers who were on set.

The Abyss (1989)

Unfortunately, they gave him a regulator that was broken and caused him to inhale water instead of air. Since he couldn’t communicate this and the rescue divers were trained to hold him down so his lungs wouldn’t over expand if he tried to swim up, he had to punch one of them in the face in order to get to the surface to get a breath of air.

But The Abyss did more than nearly kill James Cameron; it also helped usher in the CG revolution in cinema. The pseudopod, a liquid creature that was entirely digital, was a huge leap forward in computer animation, opening the possibilities for what the technology could do. Pushing boundaries and opening up possibilities has been a theme throughout the Avatar director’s work, whether making great strides in digital effects or creating new camera systems, especially for shooting underwater.

James Cameron is not only a filmmaker but a technician and inventor. Whatever new innovations Cameron is tinkering with next, fans will surely be looking forward to the 4K release of The Abyss in the coming months.