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This article was first published 12 years ago

'Titanic is relevant even today'

Last updated on: April 5, 2012 12:47 IST

Image: A scene from Titanic. Inset: Producer Jon Landau
Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

One of the most popular films of all time Titanic will be re-released once again to take audiences on its beautiful tragic voyage.

The new 3D version will release on April 5, just five days shy to the centenary of the Titanic's maiden and only voyage on April 15, 1912.

Producer Jon Landau, 52, was recently in the country to promote the film, which had been directed by James Cameron in 1997.

Landau, who also produced Cameron's recent blockbuster Avatar, spoke to Sonil Dedhia about the difficulties the team faced to convert the Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet starrer in 3D, and also spills the beans about the Avatar sequel.

Where did the initial idea of converting Titanic in 3D come from?

We were working in 3D in early 2001 and during a conversation someone mentioned, "If we had a chance to make Titanic in 3D, we would have." Unfortunately, the technology did not exist then.

3D was becoming popular around 2006 and that's when we decided to consider the option of converting Titanic to 3D.

We started testing with almost 15 companies by giving them different scenes from the movie that made up one minute of total time. We picked the best company that we felt most comfortable with.

How did it feel revisiting the film after so many years?

It's been nostalgic. I think it gives an opportunity to look back at the making of the film, to our trips to the Titanic. In fact, James has gone back to the Titanic twice since we made the movie and done subsequent dives to the submerged deck.

'We learnt a lot about 3D during the making of Avatar'

Image: A scene from Titanic

Did the making of Titanic in 3D become an easier process after you all made Avatar?

Absolutely. One of the great things about our industry is that your next project relies on the experiences that you have acquired on your past projects. We learnt a lot about 3D during the making of Avatar.

What are some of the limitations of enhancing a film that was shot in 2D into 3D?

We didn't shoot the film in 3D and that is why it took us so long to do the conversion properly. We spent 18 million dollars and it took us 60 weeks to convert it with over 300 artists working round the clock.

A lot of people release a film in 3D and 2D on the same day -- you just can't do justice to it. The director has to be involved in the 3D process as it's not a technical process, it's a creative process and creative decisions need to be made. 

Please continue...

We didn't view 3D as gags coming off the screen. James Cameron spent hours reviewing material on a frame-by-frame basis. We'd literally stop on a frame and would discuss whether the object in the frame was too close or very far.

3D is about creating a window into the world. 

'Titanic is a timeless story'

Image: A scene from Titanic

You have been associated with James Cameron for so many years. What is it like working with him?

It's a privilege to be associated with him. He challenges you every day and pushes you to go beyond where you think you're capable of going.

Every day you learn something new from him and the process never stops. I am more excited about learning now than I ever was when I was in school (smiles).

You are releasing the film seven days shy of Titanic setting sail 100 years ago. Was it planned? 

I think it's a good time to release the film. We could have picked any time to re-release the film but by timing it with the centenary of the Titanic sailing, we are making a bigger impact as people will remember it.

It also pays homage to the people who lost their lives as Titanic's disaster was avoidable.

Has anyone from the cast of the film seen the 3D enhancement?

Kate (Winslet) and Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio) saw some footage of the converted film and their initial reaction was 'Oh, my gosh! Look how young we were' (Laughs).

They haven't seen Titanic in all these years and I guess it is the same reaction the audience will have because I am sure everyone will feel that they are watching the movie for the first time, all over again. 

'I see no reason why people wouldn't go and revisit the film in theatres after 15 years'

Image: A scene from Titanic

Do you think Titanic is a film which can be passed on to the next generation?

Yes, because it is a timeless story. The film is no different from a Romeo and Juliet which has been passed on from generation to generation. I see no reason why people wouldn't go and revisit the film in theatres after 15 years.

So are you saying the film is relevant even today?

Yes, Titanic is as relevant today as it was 15 years ago. I think those who have seen the film will find themselves transported in a new way; but there will also be many discovering the film for the first time, who weren't even born when it was released in 1997. Audiences young and old are each going to take something away from it

Would you agree that Avatar gave the opportunity to a lot of filmmakers to explore 3D?

Yes, absolutely. Avatar was the impetus for other people to look at making films in 3D.

We as an industry had a crisis situation for a while where studios and not the directors were making decisions to make films in 3D.

It is the director who needs to decide whether the film has to be in 3D or not as the film is the vision of the director which has been converted into the medium of cinema.


'A lot of films today are overusing 3D'

Image: A scene from Titanic

Do you think a lot of films that have come out in the recent times are misusing the technology of 3D?

Yes, a lot of films are overusing 3D. A lot of filmmakers have not figured out what to communicate with 3D.

When you misuse 3D, you interrupt the audience's suspension of disbelief and it's really hard to earn it back.

With the release of Titanic in 3D can we see some Hollywood classics re-releasing in 3D?

I think in the near future you are going to see films like Jurassic Park and Star Wars getting converted into 3D and I am sure it is going to be an exciting time for all the movie buffs.

How important has the Indian market become for Hollywood?

I think films is international business. India falls into the top dozen territories in the world. The economic situation is getting better and better and the potential here is phenomenal.

In terms of box office collections too India will be one of the largest markets in the next decade.

'We are planning to releaseTitanic in 4D'

Image: A scene from Titanic

What are your future plans?

The second and the third sequel to Avatar are being shot simultaneously. The releases dates of both the films are not yet finalised. We are also building a theme park with Walt Disney so we are going to be living and breathing Avatar for some years at least.

Any plans to make the sequel of Avatar in 4D?

Well, Avatar was released in 4D in some parts of the world and we received a positive response.

We are planning to releaseTitanic in 4D very soon.