James Cameron, shown April 11, is being hailed as an innovator by both the Producers Guild of America and the Guardian Film Power 100 list. ((Andre Penner/Associated Press))

The Producers Guild of America plans to give Avatar creator James Cameron its highest honour, the Milestone Award.

The industry group gives the award annually to an individual or team who has made historic contributions to the entertainment industry.

"James Cameron is an exceptionally talented producer — a true innovator with the rare combination of technical ingenuity and creative vision," said Paula Wagner, chair of the 2011 Producers Guild Awards said.

The guild hailed Cameron for blazing new trails in visual effects and breaking box office records with his films Titanic and Avatar.

It's not the only honour this week for the Canadian-born producer and director. He also topped a list of the most influential figures in Hollywood published Friday by London's Guardian newspaper.

The Guardian said Cameron has been "at the forefront of innovation," mentioning Terminator  20 years ago, his computer effects in Titanic and his breakthrough in 3-D with Avatar.

"Currently Cameron is preoccupied with his role as the motivating force behind the contemporary 3D resurgence; indeed, he is almost the entire reason why it is no longer viewed exclusively as a sideshow gimmick," the Guardian said.

Special effects intrigue Cameron

Cameron topped a list of 100 film industry figures that includes Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ont. and grew up near Niagara Falls, Ont., but forged his career in Hollywood, beginning with a short film in 1978.

Always interested in special effects, he worked with Roger Corman on Battle Beyond the Stars, before directing Aliens and The Terminator.

He also developed a remotely controlled 3-D camera system to film under water, including inside the Titanic for IMAX film Ghosts of the Abyss. His effects and animation house Digital Domain continues to lead innovation in film.

The Producers Guild will honour him at the 22nd annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Jan. 22.