Released in 1997, Titanic became the most expensive movie ever to be produced, and also the highest-grossing of all time. Its story of a doomed romance amid a real-life disaster enthralled cinemagoers and its soundtrack has endured to this day.
Kate Winslet stars as Rose, a young woman forced into an arranged marriage to save her debt-saddled family. However, when she meets Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), an itinerant artist, aboard the Titanic, she decides to pursue love as an escape from her restrictive lifestyle. Then the ship sinks.
Produced on a budget of $200 million, the film made $2.187 billion, only relinquishing the title of highest-grossing movie when surpassed by James Cameron’s Avatar in 2010.
Directed, written, co-produced and co-edited by James Cameron, the film was born of the filmmaker’s obsession with shipwrecks. In fact, Cameron descended to the shipwreck himself to capture footage of the real Titanic. The studio, however, was initially reluctant to greenlight the film and – according to Cameron – would have preferred a film more in the vein of The Terminator or Aliens.
Cameron himself sketched the nude portrait of Rose that underpins the film; that nude scene was in fact one of the first shot, as the Titanic replica set was still unfinished.
When Cameron cut his footage into a three-hour film – making for just over $1 million per minute of screen-time – studio executives were eager to slim the runtime. To that, Cameron replied: “You want to cut my movie? You’re going to have to fire me! You want to fire me? You’re going to have to kill me!”
Several lines from the film have gone on to become pop-culture stalwarts, including Jacks’ boast that he’s “king of the world” and Rose’s instruction to “paint me like one of your French girls.”