Titanic Almost Bankrupted Its Creators: Mistakes Were Made, Says James Cameron

Titanic Almost Bankrupted Its Creators: Mistakes Were Made, Says James Cameron
Image credit: Legion-Media, 20th Century Fox

Yet, the filmmaker never 'panicked' in spite of all the difficulties.


  • Titanic is one of the most financially successful and expensive movies ever made.
  • The film was made without CGI.
  • James Cameron admits to making logistical mistakes before and during filming.

It's been almost twenty-six years since James Cameron's Titanic, one of the most popular films in the history of cinema, premiered. Based on the infamous 1912 tragedy, it tells a compelling love story that quickly became an integral part of pop culture and remains so all these years later.

Remarkably, Titanic is also one of the most financially successful films of all time, originally grossing an astounding $1.84 billion at the box office, more than this year's champion, Barbie, at $1.44 billion. What's even more impressive is that when adjusted for inflation, it's a staggering $3.5 billion. But perhaps more importantly, James Cameron's romantic drama was the most expensive movie at the time of its creation, produced on a massive $200 million budget. Interestingly, no one could say for sure that the movie would recoup its costs, meaning that it could have bankrupted the studio.

The Incredible Scale of Titanic

Released in 1997, Titanic was made before the era of CGI in Hollywood. As a result, the movie's complex sets had to be built in real life. For example, the titular ship was partially recreated on the set in Rosarito, Mexico, where filming took place. At an impressive 800ft (245m) long, the replica was built to scale and used in two sequences: before and after the sinking. But even this was actively negotiated with the studio, so that the cost of the replica would not make it impossible to shoot all the ship scenes.

'If the studio had had their way, they would have cut the entire ship sinking. The smartest thing we did was do the sinking last. It wasn't because of strategy – it was simply because you sink the set last because otherwise it doesn't look so good the next morning when you bring it back up,' James Cameron shared in an interview.

James Cameron's Original Doubts About Titanic

According to the creator of Avatar, the franchise that makes extensive use of CGI, he would have made Titanic very differently today, using modern technology. Perhaps it would have saved the studio a lot of money. But because the iconic romance drama was made without it, the filmmakers had to deal with a lot of problems on set.

'It was hundreds of miles of cabling, all the Musco lights in Hollywood at the time. The scale of everything was beyond anything we could imagine in terms of our prior experience. At the time we thought, wow, there's no way this movie could ever make its money back. It's just impossible. Well, guess what?' James Cameron said.

Apparently, all's well that ends well…

Source: The Los Angeles Times.