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Aliens’ Oscar Snub Frustrated James Cameron — and Drove His Determination

Friend Randy Frakes recalls James' ambition being renewed by failing to be recognized by his peers for the 1986 masterpiece Aliens.

James Cameron on the set of Aliens at London's Pinewood Studios.

It had already been a stressful year for James Cameron.

He'd battled a film studio to get his leading actress, Sigourney Weaver, and averted a mutiny while shooting the sequel no one respected him directing.

Then, he'd somehow escaped a disastrous music situation — though composer James Horner had to write music overnight for the London Symphony Orchestra coming in the next morning.

Now, Aliens was a box office hit.

The chip on James shoulder was still there, but he'd finally had his first taste of mainstream success. It was vindication for him — an outsider to the film industry.

But even after Aliens being one of the biggest box office winners of the year, and many expecting him to pick up his first Academy Award nomination, that recognition never came.

The story is featured in the opening scene of Episode 6 of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON — the award-winning "biopic podcast" series, starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, from filmmaker and journalist Matt Schrader.

BLOCKBUSTER is free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Podcast Miniseries.

The frustrated fueled a renewed drive, says lifelong friend Randy Frakes, featured in BLOCKBUSTER.

Randy recalls James feeling slighted by failing to earn both directing and producing nominations from the Oscars.

James would push forward with his most ambitious and dangerous project yet — The Abyss — and give it everything he had.

You can hear more about the rise of James Cameron in BLOCKBUSTER, free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other platforms.

Please consider supporting the independent creators directly to encourage future series like this one! This production is produced at the level of an indie feature film and requires a lot of time and talent to coordinate, and we funded it ourselves. If you enjoyed the experience, please consider a small donation of $10, and you'll earn some cool bonus perks in the process! Support

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