James Cameron Promises to Keep 'Titanic' Intact with 3D Release

The director and Lightstorm partner Jon Landau unveiled 17 minutes of the converted 1997 hit, dated special effects still included.

Five months after formalizing plans to re-release Titanic with a 3D conversion, James Cameron debuted nearly 20 minutes of his work in progress for reporters in New York.

The new version of the Oscar-winning picture arrives April 6, 2012, from Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment -- and despite speculation that Cameron might update special effects, he insists the dated "cringers" aren't going anywhere.

"We're not changing a frame. The ship still sinks. It ends the same way," Cameron says (via MTV), joined by Lightstorm producing partner Jon Landau. "For me, the problem is, once you pull that thread, it all unravels. Where do you stop?"

Cameron diplomatically calls out George Lucas as an example of what he's not trying to do, saying Titanic isn't intended to evolve in the same way as Lucas' revised Star Wars trilogy.

As for purists possibly put off by the $18 million conversion, which, in the end, demands over a year's worth of work from 300 artists, Cameron suggests the theatrical event takes precedence over it being in 3D.

"I think the film holds up pretty darn well. In 3D, it becomes kind of a new experience," he says. "It's a much more intimate and involving experience both with the characters and with the physical space."

Titanic, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, remains the second-highest grossing film of all time, only topped by Cameron's Avatar. The 2012 re-release coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the titular ship's sinking.