James Cameron's untitled sci-fi project: As we reported yesterday, James Cameron spoke before an audience on Tuesday night at the ArcLight theater in Hollywood about his next sci-fi project. Today Variety elaborated on Cameron's speech...

"When I see a movie like 'The Lord of the Rings' films and I see what's possible with digital effects now, I can't resist," Cameron said. "I've got to come and play because there are some really cool images that I was never able to do before that I want to do now."

Cameron said the sci-fi feature will be shot using the Reality Camera System, the patented 3-D camera rig used for "Ghosts of the Abyss," his Imax docudocu about the Titanic, distributed last year by Disney. Cameron developed the rig with Vince Pace, a cinematographer and undersea filmmaker.

At the ArcLight gathering, Cameron said the Reality Camera System was "one of the more powerful experiences you can have in a theater. It's also daunting from the filmmaker's standpoint." His decision to use the system for a studio feature was "based on three years of pretty intensive R&D image analysis."

Cameron hinted at the untitled sci-fi project Saturday when he was presented with the Producers Guild's Vanguard Award at the Century Plaza Hotel.

But Cameron's most explicit commentary came at the ArcLight appearance, before an audience of dedicated fans, in the context of a conversation about "Terminator 2," a film whose digital morphing technologies helped changed the face of special f/xf/x.

"Even though this film is known for computer graphics, the effects were just arrows in the quiver," Cameron said. "In 'Terminator 2,' there were 47 CG shots. In 'Return of the King,' there were more than 1,400."

Landau declined to say more about the project, but he did rule out a few possibilities. It's not "Avatar," an undersea sci-fi project that's been linked to Cameron. It's also not "The Dive," a project about freediver Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras and wife Audrey Mestre, set up at Fox. Landau said Cameron intends to direct "The Dive," but it won't be his next feature.

Brian B.