20th Year Anniversary: 10 Facts You May Not Know About Titanic (1997)

    The Academy Award winning 1997 hit Titanic is celebrating its 20th year anniversary come December this year. The tragic love story won a record breaking 11 Oscars and remains to be one of the highest grossing motion pictures of all time. A decade later, we celebrate the popular film with 10 facts you may not have known about the massive production…


    The whole sinking of the ship in the film (except for the scenes set during the present day) is exactly two hours and forty minutes in length. This is the exact time it took for the actual Titanic to sink. Director James Cameron was so precise in his filmmaking that he went as far as making sure the ship’s collision with the iceberg was precisely 37 seconds, as it was in the real life.

    The film cost $200 million to make (the most expensive film every made by 20th Century Fox at the time). This includes the building of the sets, commissioned costumes, cast and crew salary, and other big production costs. This would mean that the movie cost much more than the actual ship, which was built between 1910-1912 for £1.5 million ($7.5 million at the time, and approximately $120-150 million in 1997, adjusted to inflation).


    Christian Bale had initially been tapped to play Jack Dawson. He even auditioned for the role. Multiple actresses were considered for the role of Rose. The rooster included Jennifer Anniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Winona Ryder, Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon, Meanwhile, an English actress named Kate Winslet was obsessed in getting casted. She sent daily messages to Cameron from England, and even flew to Los Angeles to bug him on the phone. She would often say, “I AM ROSE.” After successfully landing the part, Cameron than had second thoughts about casting  Bale. He didn’t want two English actors for an American love story. He then turned to both Matthew McConaughey and Leonardo DiCaprio. The latter would win the role and end up in the picture.


    In real life, the most expensive suite on the Titanic would cost $4,350 in 1912. This is equivalent to $75,000 in today’s dollars. A first class cabin on the ship were so large that most of the rooms took up most of the A, B and C decks. It also included private bathrooms (unusual for the time), two bedrooms, two walk in closets, a spacious sitting room, a faux fireplace, a change of linens everyday, and morning tea and pastries served in the staterooms. This would also give them the privilege to use the ship’s gym, swimming pool, squash court, Turkish bath, and barber shop.


    The Heart of the Ocean necklace was inspired by the Hope Diamond, which is valued at $250 million. Although the necklace used in the movie was merely a prop, producers commissioned Harry Winston to create a real piece after it became a massive hit. The jewelry company used a 170-carat Ceylon blue sapphire instead of a diamond and enclosed it with 103 diamonds. It is valued at $4 million. For its red carpet debut, Gloria Stuart (who played the Old Rose in the film) wore it to the Academy Awards, the night she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. It was said to be the most expensive piece of jewelry worn at the Oscars during the time.

    The red beaded ball dress worn by Rose while welcoming Jack into the world of high society is one of the most expensive film costumes ever to sold at auction. It was bought at a price of $330,000 at the Profiles in History auction in 2012. Costume designer Deborah Lynn Scott won an Oscar for her work on the film.


    For the famous scene in which Jack sketches a nude Rose on the night of the sinking, James Cameron’s hand was used for the close up shots. In real life, Cameron is left handed and Leonardo DiCaprio is right handed, but the film was shot with an mirror-image flip so that it appears that is is DiCaprio’s hand.

    Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio both claim that it was one of the most difficult shoots they ever participated in. James Cameron was an extreme perfectionist, wanting everything to be as realistic as possible. Winslet even got pneumonia because of long shoots in cold water and was tempted to quit the production DiCaprio suffered from many bruises and injuries as well. One instance, he threw out a shoulder during the scene in which he had to break down a gate with a cabin bench. When shooting wrapped, she was recorded to have said, “You have to pay me a lot of money to work with James Cameron again.” DiCaprio, however, says he’s still open to shooting another action movie with the Oscar winning director. The film made both young actors household names.


    Originally, James Cameron wanted Enya to write the score of the film. When she declined, he hired composer James Horner instead. After seeing a rough cut of the film, it is rumored that Horner wrote all the themes of the movie in a single evening, including the Oscar winning song My Heart Will Go On, which singer Celine Dion originally hated. She only recorded the song once, after being persuaded by her husband.

    Titanic is one of three films to hold a record win count of 11 Oscars. Ben-Hur won the feat decades before in 1959. The third time this happened was in 2003 when The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King dominated the Academy Awards. The film also also holds another record of having the most Oscar nominations with 14. It ties with All About Eve (1950) and La La Land (2017). 




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