Cameron first gained recognition for directing The Terminator (1984). He found further critical and commercial success with Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and True Lies (1994). His greatest big-budget productions have been Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009), the former earning him Academy Awards in Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. Avatar, filmed in 3D technology, also garnered him nominations in same categories.
He also co-founded Lightstorm Entertainment, Digital Domain and Earthship Productions. In addition to his filmmaking, he is a National Geographic explorer of the sea and has produced a number of documentaries on the subject. Cameron contributed to underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies and helped create the digital 3D Fusion Camera System. In 2012, Cameron became the first person to perform a solo descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Earth's ocean, in the Deepsea Challenger submersible.
In total, Cameron's films have grossed approximately US$2 billion in North America and US$6 billion worldwide. Cameron's Avatar and Titanic are the second and third highest-grossing films of all time, earning $2.78 billion and $2.19 billion, respectively. Cameron holds the achievement of having directed the first two of the five films in history to gross over $2 billion worldwide. In 2010, Time magazine named Cameron one of the 100 most influential people in the world.