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James Cameron Previews 18 Minutes of $18 million 3D Conversion of 'Titanic'

Titanic ($1.8 billion)
20th Century Fox

The new version of the Oscar-winning picture will arrive in theaters April 6.

Offering up what he called a turbocharged version of Titanic, director James Cameron, along with his producer Jon Landau, unveiled 18 minutes of footage from the film's new, 3D conversion on Friday morning at the Paramount lot.

Eight scenes were screened, including footage of Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater’s (Kate Winslet) encounter on the Titanic’s grand stairwell, their kiss on the bow of the ship and its sinking. 

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“There are certain films that [warrant] being brought back to the theater,” Cameron said. “There is a whole generation of people who haven’t seen it at all.”

The 1997 disaster epic is being converted into 3D at a cost of $18 million and the process, which is ongoing, is expected to take 60 weeks, Cameron said. The conversion is largely being handled by visual effects company Stereo D and is requiring 300 artists. 

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The screening marked the first time the footage has been shown in the U.S.; scenes also were shown at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam in September. 

The updated film, from Paramount, Fox and Cameron's own Lightstorm Entertainment, will be released by Paramount on April 6. Titanic grossed $1.84 billion worldwide and won 11 Oscars, including those for best picture and best director. It is the second highest grossing film of all time, trailing only Cameron’s Avatar ($2.78 billion).

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Cameron said that while he is typically “very much against” converting traditional films into 3D — adding that he would have originally shot Titanic in 3D if the technology existed — he believes that the conversion enriches the film. 

“I totally believe 3D is an enhancement for the dramatic scenes — not just the big action,” said Cameron, adding that while he believes most 3D conversions are more like “2.4D,” the care he and others are taking with the project will ensure its 3D version is more like “2.99D.”

A new 4K digital master of the film was created as part of the conversion process; it will be the basis for traditional 2D showings of the film when it is released in April, Landau said.  He said that there would be no changes to the content of the film. “That was the director’s cut,” Landau joked.

Cameron added: “I don’t have that revisionist gene.”

He said that both DiCaprio and Winslet are interested in the project, though neither has yet seen the 3D footage.

Email: Daniel.Miller@THR.com

Twitter: @DanielNMiller