James Cameron just might be 'king of the world'

In March, director James Cameron dove to the deepest part of the ocean

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    In March, director James Cameron dove to the deepest part of the ocean

In March, director James Cameron dove to the deepest part of the ocean 00:10

Story highlights

  • Cameron is the filmmaker behind "The Terminator," "Aliens, "Titanic" and "Avatar"
  • Cameron journeyed more than 35,800 feet underwater to the Mariana Trench
  • Source: Cameron can create worlds that don't exist, explain real events like no one else

What's a man to do after helming two of the most lucrative film releases to date (and re-releasing one in 3-D)?

Ride a one-man submersible to the deepest known point in the world's oceans, before attempting to expand the Earth's resource base by backing a new space venture. Obviously.

James Cameron, known for writing and directing films like "The Terminator," "Aliens, "Titanic" and "Avatar," has made headlines recently for some science (non)fiction projects that won't be appearing on the big screen.

Last month the filmmaker plunged more than 35,800 feet to the Mariana Trench, where he collected samples that will allow scientists to conduct research about the habitat. And now he's apparently involved with Planetary Resources, along with several other distinguished investors.

"[Cameron] has more money than you could spend in 100 lifetimes, a lovely wife and family, a huge compound ... a lot of Oscars," said Howard Bragman, a longtime Hollywood publicist and the vice chairman of Reputation.com. "[He's] made the two biggest movies in the entire world. After that, it kind of becomes about your dreams. It's wonderful that somebody with these resources follows their dreams."

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Wealthy celebrities like Cameron have the resources to boldly go where other people have only imagined. But there's more to living out such dreams than a bottomless bank account.

"(Cameron) has the infrastructure to carry this out," Bragman told CNN. "Same as someone like (Sir Richard) Branson. We're not just talking about money here."

Branson, the business tycoon behind the Virgin Group, has used his notoriety and wealth to break several world records and purchase land (including a small island in the British Virgin Islands), in addition to his many humanitarian initiatives.

Oprah Winfrey is another celebrity who has been fortunate enough to follow her dreams. She opened The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in 2007. Winfrey visited South Africa in January to congratulate the school's first graduates.

There are plenty of people with money who wouldn't be able to accomplish everything these celebs have accomplished or live out their dreams like Cameron has, Bragman said.

"Both (Cameron and Branson) are in industries that generate a lot of press," Bragman said. "They're both incredibly successful. If some Russian billionaire did it, it wouldn't get the same attention. But when James Cameron does it, it's fascinating. It's a journey. And it might turn into a TV show. ... Knowing him, he'll probably figure out a way to make money off [his underwater exploration]. That's what a great businessman does."

"The thing about James Cameron is, he can get his mind around a project the size of 'Avatar' and keep his cool," Roger Ebert wrote in 2009. "If it requires the development of untested technology, he takes the time to work on it. If he wants to create aliens human enough to be sexy and yet keep them out of the Uncanny Valley (the repulsion humans feel when robots look a little too realistic), he test-drives them."

Cameron is somehow able to create worlds that don't exist, and explain real events in a way that no one else can, Bragman said. His curiosity and his unlimited resources allow him to do this.

"And good for him and good for us who get to share in it," he added. "We're seeing places we've never seen before [because of him]" -- both on and off screen.