Leo And Kate Ready To Sail Again As Oscar Champ 'Titanic' Shows Off 3D Conversion

Are you ready to go back to Titanic?

That is not just a famous line from the 1997 Oscar-winning box office phenomenon, they are also the words producer Jon Landau used this morning in front of a packed theater of journalists at Paramount to introduce 18 minutes of the film’s new 3D conversion.  Paramount and 20th Century Fox — which holds international rights after bringing in Paramount to be domestic distributor when the film was sailing way over budget — will open the new 3D-converted Titanic on April 6, 2012. That’s just days before the 100th anniversary of the ship’s maiden launch on April 10, 1912.

“We didn’t want to release it on the day of the sinking, we wanted it to be about the ship itself, but obviously it sank,” said the film’s writer/director/co-producer/co-editor and all-around King of the World James Cameron, who explained that with the 100th anniversary of the fabled ship’s sailing the time was right not only for 3D but to bring the movie back for a new theatrical experience — even though it has been out in various video formats for years. “It has to do with the psychology of going to a theater. We make a committment to spend those two or three hours in a shared experience with others … and there is a whole generation that hasn’t seen it at all,” Cameron said, adding that in the modern world of cell phones, texting, emailing and other distractions, it is hard to get the full intended impact of a film like this at home.

Of course, Cameron has publicly stated he isn’t a fan of 3D conversions for films that have a choice. But he makes an exception for those “20 or 30 classic films out there” that can find a new audience with the format, and Titanic fit the bill. “I love 3D; if I had the 3D cameras at the time, I certainly would have loved to have shot the film with them,” he said. When I spoke with him afterwards in the lobby, his enthusiasm was infectious for the film and the new technologies he now has at his disposal to give it new life. He said the whole movie would have been shot differently today than in 1997: Rather than building those massive ship sets, he would have relied much more heavily on CGI and other techniques than the not-so-cost-effective way they did it then. He said that fortunately for him the film made money (that’s an understatement), but it could have had a very different outcome. In other words, a lot of dice were rolled on Titanic, which of course went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time until Cameron’s own Avatar usurped it a couple of years ago. It would now take another billion or so for it to come back from the video bins and topple Avatar — an unlikely outcome — but one informed source working on the new re-release told me another “4 or 5″ (hundred million) could be in play. Certainly Disney’s success with The Lion King’s 3D conversion is whetting appetities all over Hollywood for the boxoffice possibilities of library titles.

Tom Sherak, who is consulting on the film (his son William’s company Stereo D has done at least 90% of the conversion work on the film, according to Cameron and Sherak) was almost giddy. He tells me that the film has never played theatrically in two huge markets — Russia and China — meaning the sky’s the limit in those countries, “and it could be even bigger in Japan, too,” he said.

The conversion process has taken 60 weeks at a cost of $18 million. As for Cameron’s direct involvement, three tech people with knowledge of the original shoot go through every frame before giving results of the work to the director, who spends three- to four-hour sessions checking it shot by shot for the desired effect — which he and Landau told me is all about getting real depth into each frame. It’s all about depth. Cameron said that even when he was shooting the movie in 2D he was subconsciously making a 3D film in terms of the depth he tried to bring to every frame. “I believe 3D is an enhancement not only for action but for intimate dramatic scenes. (With the 3D conversion), we’re hoping to turbo-charge the experience and make it new again for audiences,” Cameron told the assembled media. He also emphasized that he hasn’t changed single frame from a creative point of view, feeling he got it right the first time. “I am not a revisionist. I am not re-inventing the film artistically,” he said. The directors’ cut in 1997 remains the director’s cut in 2012.

Cameron says the film will be available in all formats, not just 3D. There will be Imax 2D and 3D  and regular 2D prints that he says will look “stunning.” They have created a 4K master, gotten rid of the grain, and color-corrected everything so it looks even better than it did for its first release.

The footage shown today (and previously at a session in New York) did look great — a remarkable conversion job at least on those scenes shown. I remember seeing the film for the first time in the very same theater at Paramount on Halloween morning 1997. When I came out, I wrote a prediction on a piece of paper and hung it on my wall at Access Hollywood, where I was working at the time. I still have it: “Titanic will break All About Eve‘s all-time Oscar nomination record and get 15 nominations.” It got 14, tying Eve, after Cameron’s original script was unexpectedly snubbed by the writers branch. I told this story to Landau this morning. He said, “Actually, I think it also should have had a nomination for Leo (DiCaprio, who was not nominated even though co-stars Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart were).” In terms of Oscars, Titanic still shares the nomination record with 1950’s Eve and is tied with 1959’s Ben-Hur and 2003’s Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King for the most Oscar wins with 11 each.

I facetiously suggested to Cameron and Landau that they ought to try to qualify the new 3D version for the Oscars. Judging by the competition it could probably triumph again if there wasn’t a silly rule making previous winning movies ineligible from doing it all over again.  “I don’t think I’d like to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” joked Cameron, who more recently endured a brutal Oscar race with Avatar against eventual winner The Hurt Locker.

  1. “it could probably triumph again if there wasn’t a silly rule making previous winning movies ineligible from doing it all over again.”

    Oh yeah, that’s such a silly rule. I think every year, we should just be voting on director’s cuts and special editions – I mean, then, George Lucas could release a special edition of Star Wars every single year in an attempt for another Oscar.

  2. Ya, because I really want to feel like I’m ‘right there’, in the middle of the action’ and ‘be transported right into the movie’, as the ship sinks..

    Can’t wait…/s

    1. there is no director’s cut, the theatrical version is what was released on all DVDs.

      There are separate deleted scenes in some DVD editions, which were never included in any cut.

  3. Can’t wait for this. Saw it twice in theaters when I was a kid, and now I watch it at least 1-2 times per year on DVD. There are so many others like me – this will be gigantic. It’s simply the best movie that will ever be made in our lifetime.

    1. Best movie of our lifetime? LOL

      It’s just another cheesy love story about a spoiled rich girl and a poor artist who draws pictures of naked women. The only thing that made Titanic watchable was Cameron’s direction of the disaster scenes.

    2. when this movie was being made Leonardo told me it was “cinderella on a sinking ship”. that was of course before he knew it was going to be one of the biggest movies ever.

  4. Does the ship still go down? I’m sure Godsick will do a bang up job on the licensing/merchandise. Whatever. Heard that Godsick put on a show for the new animated movie for ’13 – Leafman. Sounds like Ferngully meets Avatar – but horrible.

  5. “Titanic” found a home on my Ten Worst List of 1997.

    If I see the 3D version, can I place it on my Ten Worst List of 2012?

  6. What’s most interesting in this is Cameron’s passing comment that if he did it in 2011 he’d use more CGI. IMO, part of what makes Titanic work so well is the fact that it was shot on “real” sets, meticulously crafted to look like Titanic down to the smallest detail. It created a realism that no green screen can reproduce.

    Indeed, the CGI scenes in the original are easy to spot and among the least effective in the film. Yes, CGI is better today, but there’s no substitute for a camera and the actors reacting to a physical set.

  7. When will he learn that adding another dimension doesn’t help improve the two dimensional characters he keeps writing? He is a TERRIBLE writer.

    1. @Anonymous

      James Cameron a “TERRIBLE” writer of:

      Terminator 1 & 2
      Aliens
      Abyss
      Titatic
      Avatar
      Strange Days

      And what’s on your list Anonymous?!

      Snotty comments on Deadline ..

    2. yea you’re a moron. If you know that little about writing and movies, get off this site and go look at some porn.

  8. I was 9 when this movie came out and I saw it about 10 times in the theater. (Very permissive parents.) Is this reboot on the 100th anniversary offensive and tasteless? Yes. Do I want to line Cameron’s pockets with even more money? No. Am I still hella excited? Absolutely.

    1. You saw it 10 times in theaters? It’s stupid people like your parents that gave 20th Century Fox billions in box office.

  9. I hope the conversion is better than most of StereoD’s work, which isn’t saying too much as their work on the Marvel movies has been wildly inconsistent from shot to shot.

    Previously, Cameron has said they spent a year converting the movie. Now he says just 16 weeks? That’s only 8 more weeks than Clash of the Titans, after complaining about quicky conversions to make a fast buck. I imagine the real figure is somewhere between those two figures. And they only showed 18 minutes. What does the other 90 percent of the movie look like?

    I’m also not a big fan of the reframing of the wide screen original to fit it into the HD aspect ratio. Why change it? Home video? I hope the 2D release hasn’t been cut off that way.

    I do want to see the whole thing, though. The story of the original sinking remains fascinating even if the romance novel Cameron wrapped it in doesn’t hold my interest much…

    1. The article says 60 weeks, not 16 weeks… phonetic reading!

      And… “reframing of the wide screen original to fit it into the HD aspect ratio”? What?

      There is no mention of that at all, and “HD aspect ratio”, what does that mean? 16/9?. It will be 2.35 just like the original screenings, why change anything?

    2. 3D Fan wrote

      “Previously, Cameron has said they spent a year converting the movie. Now he says just 16 weeks? That’s only 8 more weeks than Clash of the Titans, after complaining about quicky conversions to make a fast buck. I imagine the real figure is somewhere between those two figures.”

      Suggesting to stop imagining the figures but to re-read the article once again, especially this part..

      “The conversion process has taken 60 weeks at a cost of $18 million… “

    3. “I hope the conversion is better than most of StereoD’s work, which isn’t saying too much as their work on the Marvel movies has been wildly inconsistent from shot to shot.”

      Uh yeah, what 3D company do you work for 3D fan?

  10. The thing we all need to remember is that when James Cameron does something he does it right. Everything else is just a load of Kraaken.

  11. I will most certainly be watching this (and drooling profusely) in IMAX 3D. It’s going to be spectacular and I cannot wait!!

  12. Desperate times call for desperate measures. 3-D…Sequel…Remake…Reboot…Same movie different title… Hollywood has no shame.

  13. I love Titanic!!! Still number one movie of all-time when it comes to sheer cultural impact! No other movie will have such a huge impact on pop culture! Can’t wait for the re-release and see history repeat itself!

    1. There’s nothing “culture” about Titanic. It’s just another cheesy love story, which just happens to be set on the Titanic.

      The only impact it had was making a shitload of money.

      1. Exactly the same can be said of “Avatar”, squared.

        One of the worst films of the decade, all wrapped up in pretty special effects. Trite and boring, but pretty.

        A pretty, awful movie.

  14. Enjoyed Titanic in spite of my better judgement (and in spite of Billy Zane’s “Snidley Whiplash” portrayal of a terribly written character). I’ll probably go see it, but I’ll wear a disguise.

    1. During the first run, I went back to the theater again the next day, just to see them sink that ship again. I showed up 45 minutes after it started to skip the lame storyline.

      And I look forward to the 2D Blu-ray – just to see them sink that ship again.

  15. I assume they’ve fixed the fake-looking CGI wide shots of the boat sailing through the ocean. That surf looked rubbish when it was released. I agree that James Cameron won’t sign off on this until it looks fantastic.

  16. I hope there will be a cast and crew screening party this time.

    We all went through hell together and then nothing.

    Share the wealth, boys…

  17. Why? I avoided that crap movie then I will avoid it again. I finally became a Leo fan. Why would you do this ? Just make True Lies 2 already Christ.

    1. Billy, you appeared in that 2009 Greek masterpiece, Evil 2 – In The Time of Heroes. Don’t you remember? Everything about it sucked so much you looked great. Just hold on for part three and you’ll be fine. Really.

  18. LA Confidential was the superior movie of 1997. Too bad money making spoke louder than quality. As they say, ‘in the end, the boat sinks’ and it will sink again in 3D. No surprises or suspense, just a corny movie and love song to go with it.

  19. The movie going public will come out in force and all the people on here who are dumping on the movie are a tiny tiny minority. Recent movie successes or non successes prove that most of the viewers don’t share the same opinion as people on the websites.

    BTW, I hated Titanic when I watched it in the cinema as I sat there with my GF who was crying her eyes out during the final third of that movie…I broke up with her soon afterwards.

    1. Oh, so the economic crisis is over now? I guess everyone now has 3D bucks to spend again. Phew.

      Cameron is the ultimate snake oil salesman.

  20. Hey why don’t they add sharks? That would be awesome because sharks always bring it to a movie. They can call it “Titanic” Jaws ultimate revenge

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