Director James Cameron and I are dissimilar in so many ways that it would be impossible to list all of them in the allotted space.
However, our differences could be summarized in one sentence: He was the king of the world in 1998, and I have never been the king of anything.
We do have one thing in common, however. It's certainly not money, talent or good looks. It's something we believe in our hearts.
"Certain movies should be seen on the big screen," he told me months ago just after unveiling 18 minutes of his restored "Titanic."
In case you haven't heard, Cameron's 1997 blockbuster, which was the biggest movie of all time until he dethroned himself 12 years later with the sci-fi flick "Avatar," will be re-released on April 4 in 3-D.
It took 300 artists working full-time for 60 weeks, at a cost of $18 million, to complete the conversion from a movie shot originally in 2-D to a 3-D film.
Normally, such conversions fail miserably because real 3-D should be shot with 3-D cameras, which have a dual lens. During this latest 3-D craze, the shoddy conversions have outnumbered movies shot in real 3-D. It's sad what some people will do for a buck.
Cameron concedes that his "Titanic" conversion was not perfect. "It's more like 2.99-D, instead of 3-D, but that's better than the usual conversion, which is 2.4-D.
"Normally, I am against 3-D conversion," he added. "It has to be done right."
One would expect the man who wrote, directed and produced "Titanic" to tout his accomplishment, but I must agree with the man that the conversion is near-perfect. Before he showed me the footage, I couldn't imagine why anyone could be enticed back into theaters to watch (SPOILER ALERT!) the Titanic sink again after hitting an iceberg, but I am a believer. It's even more remarkable in 3-D.
Cameron doesn't need the money. "Titanic" made $1.8 billion at the box office. "Avatar" made $2.8 billion. And that doesn't count merchandising revenue and small-screen rentals and sales. I'm pretty sure the filmmaker will never have to work a second job.
Therefore, one can assume that he did this 3-D conversion for art's sake. But he's also a commercially minded director, and he believes there is a public waiting for this re-release.
"It's been 15 years, and there is a whole generation that hasn't seen this movie in theaters."
Ah, there is the aspect of this event that intrigues me.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you are aware of my constant harping about the lack of quality movies being shown in theaters. I wasn't even impressed with most of the nine films nominated this year in the best motion picture category at the Oscars.
I also hate the notion of watching movies on small screens. When someone tells me they watch movies on their cell phone, I want to run screaming into the night. Can you imagine watching "Titanic" on a cell phone?
Getting those people to see what they've missed won't be easy. There is an entire younger generation that doesn't know any better, and there is an older generation that shuns real movie theaters, preferring to wait to see movies in the comfort of their living room.
Those people need to get back into the theater, and Cameron may be successful in doing that by converting his film to 3-D. I don't care how many 3-D TV sets they sell for the home, it will never compare to watching a movie like "Titanic" on a huge movie screen.
The re-release date is timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the day (April 10, 1912) when the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, for New York City. It sunk five days later.
Cameron, who has said that he was always fascinated by shipwrecks, released his epic on Dec. 19, 1997. If you're old enough, you'll probably remember that the movie ran way over budget (some estimates exceeded $200 million, which was a lot of money in 1997), and was the target of skeptics who thought the director might have a "Heaven's Gate" on his hands.
But then the film opened, and the money kept flooding in week after week. When Oscar time came around, the film received a stunning 14 nominations, and then won 11 statuettes, including best picture and best director.
If you are one of the 13 people in the universe who missed "Titanic" the first time around, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a young artist who wins a third-class ticket aboard the doomed ship. He falls in love with a first-class passenger (Kate Winslet), who poses naked for him. He returns the favor by helping her to survive the sinking, but then she can't figure out a way to share the buoyant piece of wood that saves her.
Yes, that still bothers me.
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