The 1997 film “Titanic” was directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized story of what happened on April 14, 1912, the film stars Leonardi DiCaprio as Jack and Kate Winslet as Rose, members of different social classes who were passengers on the ship’s disastrous maiden voyage. Nominated for 14 academy awards, the film grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. Despite its huge popularity, there are probably several things you don’t know about this blockbuster.
The Cast That Almost Was
Studio executives wanted to cast Matthew McConaughey as Jack. James Cameron insisted on Leonardi DiCaprio for the lead. Executives also considered casting Gwyneth Paltrow as Rose, as well as Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Jodie Foster, Cameron Diaz and Sharon Stone before hiring Kate Winslet for the role. Robert DeNiro was offered the role of Captain Smith but declined.
Gloria Stuart, who plays Rose in her senior years, was the only person on the set who was alive when the Titanic sank. Reba McEntire was supposed to portray the legendary “Unsinkable” Molly Brown instead of actress Kathy Bates. The singer had to drop out of the film because of a scheduling conflict.
The movie itself cost more than $200 million to make. The actual Titanic itself was built from 1910-1912 to the cost of $7.5 million by the White Star Line, which owned and operated the ship. Construction of the movie set was overseen by researchers from White Star. The set for the exterior of the ship was constructed in Baja California in Mexico in a tank holding 17 million gallons of water, providing Cameron a 270-degree “ocean view.” The ship was mounted on hydraulic jacks and could be tilted up to 60 degrees. After the movie was completed, the ship set was sold for scrap metal.
For the interior set, the most expensive room build was of the first-class suite. Today, it would cost $75,000 to reconstruct the room. The scene where the water comes crashing in to the Grand Ballroom had to be completed with one take because the water destroyed the furnishings and the rest of the entire set. In the engine room scenes, the stuntmen were only 5-feet tall in order to make the room appear larger. During the ocean scenes, the water was only 3-feet-deep. While filing the water scenes, Winslet refused to wear a wetsuit like the other actors and as a result, she caught pneumonia. The famous piece of wood that Rose floats on after the ship sinks is actually from the Titanic and is on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
James Cameron originally wanted Enya to score the music for the film but she turned him down. Instead, he hired James Horner. Cameron did not want to include any song in the film but Horner convinced him to include a song he composed titled “My Heart Will Go On,” which was sung by Celine Dion. It became Dion’s biggest hit and is one of the best-selling singles in history. It sold more than 18 million copies worldwide.
The song was the only misjudgment by Cameron as the film itself was a colossal success. It was so popular that the movie studio had to send out replacement reels of the film because movie houses wore out the original tapes from so many viewings! Also, the movie was the first film to be released on video for home viewing while still be shown in theaters worldwide.