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July 27, 2017
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Here's a look behind the scenes at Titanic—one of the most popular and beloved movies of all time—20 years on.

Titanic was the highest-grossing movie of all time, made huge stars out of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, and won a bunch of Oscars. It was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Here’s a look back at Titanic on it’s 20th anniversary.


Titanic is three-and-a-half hours long, but when that figure is adjusted for inflation, it’s over six hours long.

• In James Cameron’s first draft of the script, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character was named Ty Tannick.

• Kate Winslet’s character was originally named Rich Lady Rich.

• The only member of the cast who had been a passenger on the real Titanic in 1912 was Billy Zane.

• Gloria Stuart was cast as Old Rose mainly because she was the world’s foremost collector of blue diamond necklaces. She brought more than 30 of them with her to the set of Titanic, and really threw a different one overboard on each take.

• The string quartet that plays as the ship goes down was played by late ‘90s boy band 98 Degrees.

• Before deciding on the simple, direct, Titanic, some other titles Cameron considered were Big Ol’ Shippy Pants, Iceberg Party, Boat, and The Ship of Dreams…BAD DREAMS, Amrite?

• The iceberg that struck the ice was painstakingly crafted out of more than 20 individual ice cubes.

• All that water looks freezing cold, but the crew actually used warm caramel sauce.

• The little girl Leonardo DiCaprio dances with in the steerage party? Completely CGI.

• Leonardo DiCaprio famously wears a bearskin in The Revenant. He does that on every movie, actually, a “good luck” tradition he started on the set of Titanic when he had to single-handedly kill a bear that was threatening Danny Nuccim the guy who played Fabrizio.

• DiCaprio isn’t really sketching Kate Winslet. The hands holding the paper and pencil: Kate Winslet. She did the drawing of herself while she lay nude across the room through the magic of astral projection.

• At the time of filming, Leonardo DiCaprio was legally the “king of the world.” (He’s now King Emeritus, having ceded the crown to Miles Teller in 2014.)

• Cameron was obsessive about getting every detail of Titanic correct. The ship in the movie has the same floor tiles as the real Titanic, for example, and he also saw to it that more than 2,000 extras really drowned.

• If you took a drink every time the befuddled ship captain said “I am the Captain, wheeeee!” you would have to take more than 500 drinks.

Titanic grossed $600 million in theaters, but that’s only because James Cameron insisted that theaters charge moviegoers what a first-class ticket to the Titanic would have cost: about $900 a person.

• The addition of Celine Dion’s sweeping “My Heart Will Go On” was a last minute addition. Test audiences strongly disliked James Cameron’s initial choice of theme song, Motley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.”

• While driving to the film’s Los Angeles premiere in December 1997, co-star Kathy Bates (Molly Brown) struck an iceberg.

• Among the movies’ many Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Boat Movie, Best Kiss-Shiver, Best Movie With Floating Debris, Best Performance by an Angry Norwegian Playing Poker, Best Caviar Rejection Scene, and Best Bill Paxton/Bill Pullman Performance of the Year.

• The massive Titanic set now sits in James Cameron’s backyard. He sleeps on the main deck each night, and yells out “I am the Captain, wheeeee” until he tuckers himself out and falls asleep.

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