Titanic 3-D Sneak Preview: James Cameron Makes the Case for His Blockbuster Revival


Or else what? Will he have failed if Titanic's 3-D underwhelms? I wouldn't say that; he, Landau and studio partners Fox and Paramount will have revived a tiffany brand for a new generation and no doubt reaped a windfall of very, very three-dimensional currency. Of course this presents a problem for the 3-D skeptics out there, both critical of the visuals themselves and cynical about Hollywood's economic imperative to wring every last dollar out of the 3-D renaissance.

I asked Cameron how he'd respond to the detractors of the format in general and accusations he and his studios are merely attempting to catch the erstwhile box-office record-holder up with Avatar.

"Well, that's a pretty lofty goal," Cameron replied. "I think we should manage our expectations on that front. Yeah, because we're just greedy motherfuckers. That's all. And we didn't make enough the first time around."

The crowd laughed. "No, look," Cameron continued. "It just felt right in the centenary of the sinking of Titanic to bring this back out for fans who either are fans of the movie but have never had the widescreen experience or are fans of the movie who remember it from back then and want to re-experience that. I think it's perfectly valid. And by the way, let's remind ourselves: Hollywood is business, you know. And there's nothing wrong with that. And I personally am interested in fostering and promoting 3-D as a viable business -- and not only for the cinema, but the home market as well. And so having a successful film in 3-D is a good thing. Whether I'm involved with it or not, I'm happy. It doesn't matter what that 3-D title is -- whether it's Transformers or what it is, because it helps the business.

"Over the last four years, we've gone from 1 percent of movie revenues to 21 percent of movie revenues in 3-D, and it's a steadily rising curve. But there's this kind of story out there -- which is really perceptual; it's really just been sort of generated by the media -- that there's no real business basis for it. That 3-D is waning or the bubble's bursting or the fad is over. Which is not the case. 3-D revenues have gone up 40 percent year over year for three straight years and are projecting to do the same thing next year. So how is that a bad business story? It's not."

"And Jim," Landau added, "I think you said that if you were to do Titanic over today--"

"Oh, I'd have shot it in 3-D," Cameron said. "To me, the big factor here is the idea of a theatrical re-release. The 3-D is just a part of that. If I had my druthers, people would only see my movies in theaters. That's not a reality; it hasn't been a practical reality since I started as a director 30 years ago. There were already VHS and Beta at that point. So we've always had to compromise between the small screen and the big screen."

"And in addition to the timing of the centennial," Landau said, "just from our schedule -- Jim's schedule, more importantly -- we're going to be going into production on two Avatar sequels and [be] off the grid for a number of years, and this was the window of time where we could take the creative resources and apply it to this process."

Cameron paused. "Yeah," he said. "I kind of don't really know how to answer that question. I mean, was Lion King just pure greed, or was it giving people something that they wanted? You know? I think whenever a film is successful, it means that you're putting something into the marketplace that people actually desire, and I don't have a problem with that. I sleep well at night."

I don't doubt it, and I'll be right back at the front of the line next spring when Titanic makes its 3-D encore. Odds are good that you will be, too. But as its director alludes, the film's monolithic status does overshadow its accuracy as a barometer of 3-D's creative power and influence. The true test will be the work of its converts and acolytes -- the Michael Bays and Werner Herzogs and, indeed, Martin Scorseses of the world -- who advance the art from the conceptualization phase forward through production itself. For now, though, its my memory sold back to me. I can't put a price on it, but if a visionary like Jim Cameron thinks he can -- from an $18 million conversion to an $18 ticket -- I'm more than happy to listen to his pitch.

[Top photo: Getty Images]

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  • Dyrkness says:

    Artificial 3D? No thanks. 3D MUST be shot with a stereo camera. This will be a gigantic fail.

  • So this begs the question, if i didnt like it the first time around, will making it 3D improve the chances of me seeing it? Perhaps I am the wrong demographic (male) but for me unless no other movies are out that week, its not likely to motivate me to see it just because CGI is overlaid on it ...

  • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

    If you didn't like it the first time, you probably won't like it now. Though the ambition and scale of the last hour or so -- especially in contrast to the proliferation of garbage CGI we see today -- really is impressive upon viewing 15 years on. I do recommend it.

  • The Cantankerist says:

    Spoiler alert:
    Someone pointed out on Twitter that Jack doesn't drown at the end of Titanic. Kate lets go and Leo vanishes into the ocean deep. Is he dead? Who can say? After all, Inception opens with Leo washing up on a beach. SHIPCEPTION!

  • bob says:

    JP morgan sunk the Titanic, there is a reason they like to keep movies like Pearl Harbor and Titanic constantly on the Remake, it's to keep people off of the real story. The titanic was owned partially by JP morgan, who invited some of the most powerful people at the time, that were also opposed to the creation of the Federal Reserve bank. JP Morgan is originally to be on the ship, but then has a conversation with the Ship's Captain, and get's off the ship. Hours later it sinks, lifeboats are not available so the men are forced to let the women survive, like JP knew they would. Leaving the powerful men that opposed him trapped on the boat. One year later the Federal Reserve is created. Also, as a side note, mainstream investigating has uncovered that the Titanic also had Support beams for the mid section of the ship REMOVED days before it's maiden voyage, this rendered it unable to cope with ANY sort of side damage. Since they know everyone goes to new movies, and pretty much believes what they see, this type of propaganda serves to keep people in the dark as to the true events surrounding Titanic. It's the same old story, powerful rich men killing other people to get their way, but since they can't kill them directly they plan it in such a way that the public misunderstands, and the powerful that opposed him become manageable out of fear of the same fate.