Asia Gets Its First Look at 'Titanic 3D'

No. 2: Titanic, 1997
© 20th Century Fox

Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet starred in the Academy Award-sweeping "Titanic," one of two James Cameron movies to make this list, which earned $1,835,300,000.

Producer Jon Landau showed 18 minutes of converted footage to the CineAsia industry convention in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG – Leonardo DiCaprio was thrilled by spectacular visuals in the new Titanic 3D as much as he was amazed by the looks of his younger self, Titanic and Avatar producer Jon Landau said.

Bringing along an 18-minute showreel of newly-converted footage of the-then highest-grossing film of all-time, and carrying the producing Oscar he won for the 1997 film, Landau was in Hong Kong to wow cinema operators and the media in the region at an event organized by Twentieth Century Fox International at CineAsia. He came from Sydney, where on Sunday he showed a finished portion of Titanic 3D to DiCaprio, who was shooting Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby there. 

“Leo, who was 20 when he shot the film, was at first very verbal when he saw the 3D version. He kept saying, ‘I don’t look like that anymore,’ but then he became absorbed into the film as if he’s seeing it for the first time,” Landau recalled.

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The producer had not had the chance to show female lead Kate Winslet the converted footage yet, but was hopeful that the cast members of the original film would join the promotion of the 3D spectacular for its day-and-date worldwide release on April 6, 2012, which Landau said is being treated as a new tentpole for next spring. The release date was chosen to commemorate the centennial of the sinking -- Titanic sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912 -- and the 15th anniversary of the movie.

One of the landmark cross-studio co-productions at the time, the film was co-financed by Paramount and Twentieth Century Fox. Paramount is handling the domestic distribution, while Fox is releasing it internationally. The release date for China is not yet confirmed, but Landau said he was hopeful that the film would come out a bit later in China, where the film grossed 360 million yuan ($56.6 million) when it opened in the country. Titanic reigned as China's all-time box office champion for 11 years, before Cameron topped himself with Avatar.

The 2D to 3D conversion cost the studios $18 million, and the director James Cameron and his effects team 60 weeks.  “We’re treating each shot as a special effect shot. Our team and Jim Cameron are looking at it in a frame-by-frame basis as to use to 3D to enhance the storytelling and to enhance the audience experience in the theatre.  That’s what we want to do.  We want to drive people out of their homes and into the cinema,” Landau said. 

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The decision to convert the film, which won 11 Academy Awards in 1998, came to Cameron and Landau six years ago, when the partners first looked into the feasibility of 3D filmmaking.  The producers believed that all filmmaking should be done in 3D from now on: “the world we live in is in 3D,” and the only way to re-release the film is to do it in 3D.

“Our use of 3D is not to create a world coming out of a window, but to open a window into a world,” Landau said.

Titanic is a film meant to be seen on the big screen,” he added.  “A whole generation of moviegoers had not had the opportunity to see it on the big screen. That’s why we’re bringing Titanic back.  Bring the movie to a whole new group of moviegoers. Some of them might not have been born when the movie came out; some of them might even have been conceived the night their parents saw the movie. So we’re very excited to bring the movie back.”

Titanic 3D will be available in digital 3D, IMAX 3D, IMAX 2D, also a remastered version in 2D that Landau promised is better than the original 70mm version in 1997.