James Cameron‘s 1997 directorial Titanic is a landmark film for numerous reasons, one of them being that it established its lead actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as legitimate movie stars, and another being that it created box office history upon its release. Here’s a trivia for cinephiles: Titanic remained the no 1 movie at box office for 15 weeks on end, a feat that had not been accomplished by any feature until then.
Titanic, partly based on the sunken British passenger-liner of the same name and partly fictionalised, was a nightmare of a film to make. From the casting, to the actual budget (which ended up being a massive $210 million ultimately), getting visuals right and finally zeroing down on a release date — Titanic was a headache of a movie to produce. So much so that there were talks about how it would end up becoming a box office dud and consequently, Cameron would have to give up on his career. But of course, as history is witness, the exact opposite happened. Titanic was declared a mega hit in weeks and remained the highest grossing feature worldwide for 12 long years until in 2009, James Cameron’s own Avatar broke that spell with its unbelievable collection.
Cameron has always been one of those directors who has had to fight the hard fight in order to get things exactly as he wants it. And it of course doesn’t help that his vision is so larger-than-life, ambitious to the boot. While there may have been disagreements regarding how the ‘unfilmable’ Titanic would be shot, there was one scene that seemingly sealed the deal for all the parties involved — the sinking of the stern. In the movie, as the word spreads about the sinking of the ship, characters rush out looking for an escape, only there isn’t any. Everyone flees to the top and hangs on to the railings for their dear life as it quickly becomes clear that the stern of the ship is now going to go vertical and they are going to drown. The visual of that humongous vessel tilting to one side at 90 degrees was awe-inspiring, in the strictest sense of the term. As a viewer, you really get to be a fly on the wall and absorb that stunningly frightening moment.
James Cameron was quoted as saying by Vanity Fair, “I was so pummeled getting the movie done that, by that time, I didn’t fight too hard for anything. I remember that we ALL agreed on one thing—that the long shot of Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) clinging to each other as the vertical stern of the ship plunges down shrieking and groaning, with bodies falling hundreds of feet down toward churning water, was a slam dunk. I think that shot alone got our opening weekend audience.”
Clearly, Cameron got more than his fair share of an opening weekend, as he made box office history with the disaster romantic drama.
Titanic is available to stream on Disney Plus Hotstar, YouTube and Google Play.