We know that making movies can be a taxing and difficult, but James Cameron, the director Titanic, has detailed just how troublesome making that iconic romance disaster movie was, and it sounds absolutely hellish, tbh.
Would you believe that it’s been 20 years (!) since we were first introduced to Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater and their iconic and tragic journey on the “”””unsinkable”””” Titanic. For two decades we’ve been debating whether they both could’ve fit on the door (THEY COULD, OKAY!), but it only feels like yesterday that we became caught up in their epic love story, and the tragedy that was the sinking of the Titanic (seriously though, have we really been trying to re-create that iconic twirling Irish dancing scene for 20 years!?).
Well, to celebrate 20 years since Titanic‘s release, director James Cameron has written an essay about the difficulties he faced making the movie, and it sounds like a total nightmare.
Writing a letter to Stephen Galloway of The Hollywood Reporter for a new book on former Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing, Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker, Cameron detailed the struggles he encountered while filming the blockbuster.
The director recalled how 20th Century Fox, who were also involved with the production, wanted to partner with another studio to hold the (at the time) budget of $100 million. While Universal were originally involved, it was Paramount who eventually ended up sticking up the cash for the movie.
While, initially, things were going well and Lansing, who was at Paramount Pictures at the time, was enjoying the dallies that were being sent over, it soon transpired that the movie’s budget was spiralling out of control.
“I remember the praise from all parties becoming more sparing as time went on—they didn’t want to encourage me to sacrifice schedule for quality,” Cameron recalled. “Paramount acted like they’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer — a lot of grim faces and a triage approach to releasing the movie. Everyone thought they were going to lose money, and all efforts were simply to make sure the hemorrhage was not fatal. Nobody was playing for the upside, myself included, because nobody could have imagined what was about to happen next.”
Continuing, Cameron detailed how, as the original summer release date approached, everyone involved with the movie knew that they were going to miss the deadline. Efforts to make the movie shorter to cut down on special effects were also in vain, and Cameron said that the press were giving everyone a hard time about it.
“We were also being pummeled relentlessly in the press, especially the industry trade papers—about epic cost overruns, set safety, delivery dates and just about everything,” he recalled.“We were the biggest morons in Hollywood history and the press had the long knives out, sharpening them as we approached our summer release. It would have reached a crescendo of scorn just as we put the film in theaters.”
In his letter, Cameron recounted how Lansing was supportive of his vision, and while the promotional campaign was also a struggle to get right, too, things ultimately worked out well.
“Throughout this ugly period, Sherry remained staunchly supportive of the movie, and the film had many supporters within the ranks of the Paramount’s distribution and marketing team,” he said. “So in the end we put out spots, trailers and ads that everyone was happy with, and we launched an effective campaign that managed to open the film to number one on its opening weekend.”
Of course, Titanic would go on to stay at the top spot at the box office for 16 weeks straight, a feat that has never been matched or replicated. What’s more, the movie is currently the second highest grossing film of all time (it used to be the first, but was beaten by Cameron’s own movie Avatar). So, after all that difficulty it seems that it might *just* have been worth it…