While the actual Titanic went down in history as a tragedy, James Cameron’s movie incarnation was a massive success. When Celine Dion's “My Heart Will Go On” filled movie theaters to accompany Jack and Rose’s fated romance, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Much like the real ship, though, the filming of Titanic was anything but smooth sailing. In fact, it almost sank among a cargo of filming disasters, risky creative choices, and mounting doubt from the studio. Luckily, nothing could stop the film's inexorable rise to popularity.
30. Titanic was the most expensive film ever made in its day
When you think of James Cameron movies, you expect big budgets, and Titanic was no exception: it cost $200 million when it first hit box offices. That might not seem much now, but in 1997, that was a record-breaking sum.
Actually, the film had the biggest budget of any movie at the time. Original cost projections had it at $110 million, but creating new technology for authenticity almost doubled the film's expense. A sound stage and ocean-simulating “horizon tanks” are the culprits.
29. The ship in the film sinks in real time
Say what you want about James Cameron, but you have to admire his dedication to authenticity. However, arguably the most impressive detail in Titanic is the fact that the on-screen ship takes exactly the same time to sink as the real ship did.
That’s right, the ship is inexorably sinking beneath the ocean for two hours and forty minutes in the movie, which is the exact time it took the real Titanic to sink. So if this part of the movie feels particularly harrowing to watch, now you know why.
28. Kate Winslet got hypothermia
Titanic actors went to great lengths to finish filming, and Kate Winslet even exposed herself to dangerously cold conditions. Rumors abound that she got pneumonia, but that’s not true. She did feel the effects of the chilly waters, though, as she told Stephen Colbert in 2017.
When Colbert asked if she got pneumonia, Winslet replied, “No, but I did get hypothermia. Yeah, I was really… cold! …There were lots of big tanks and lots of water, and that amount of water, I think, honestly, they couldn’t heat it. There was just too much of it.”
27. There were no bathroom breaks
James Cameron ran a tight ship, and he didn’t want anyone to take bathroom breaks when they were in the water. So what did people do when nature called? Well, you could say they went with the flow. Winslet told Rolling Stone, “Yes, I admit to sometimes peeing in that water. Because you wanted to get it right.”
Winslet continued, “You didn’t want to have to get out and go to the bathroom, which would take half an hour with corsets and dresses and all that sort of thing. So, yeah, I peed. I mean, it’s the same with a swimming pool — do you really think about what’s in it?”