James Cameron took his "2.99-D" version of "Titanic" out into open water Friday.
The director of the Oscar-winning 1997 film and producer Jon Landau previewed 18 minutes of assorted footage that has been converted into 3-D for next year's rerelease of the film. The mastermind behind "Avatar" joked that it was not fully 3-D because "Titanic" wasn't filmed in 3-D. He was quick to note, though, that most other converted 3-D films are just "2.4-D."
"I think it looks spectacular," said Cameron. "If I had 3-D cameras at the time and there had been 3-D theaters at the time, I certainly would have shot it in 3-D. It's also just a way of reinventing the concept of a rerelease and getting people to come back to theaters and commit that three hours and 15 minutes to go through the experience again."
The footage shown during the invite-only presentation at Paramount Studios included eight scenes, spanning from Kate Winslet's well-to-do Rose looking up at the Titanic for the first time to the moment when the stern dramatically plunges into the sea at a 90-degree angle, as well as the iconic scene of Rose and Leonardo DiCaprio's drifter Jack embracing on the bow.
In the scenes previewed Friday, the 3-D footage showcased the conversion's visual reinvigoration of the existing material, especially during moments involving depth, such as a car being slowly hoisted onto the deck of the ship or Jack anxiously awaiting Rose at the bottom of a grand staircase amid a series of columns that seemingly jut out of the screen.
Cameron said that DiCaprio and Winslet have yet to see the 3-D footage of "Titanic," but he has spoken with Winslet about the project, and she is "on board." He hasn't talked to DiCaprio about the rerelease because the actor has been busy shooting "The Great Gatsby" in Australia; He hopes to reconnect with the "J. Edgar" star soon.
"We'd love to have them involved to the extent that I think people are curious about what their journey has been since 'Titanic,'" said Cameron. "I think 'Titanic' cast a very long shadow over the careers of two extremely brilliant young actors who had to spend a lot of time kinda reminding people they weren't Jack and Rose over the next few years."
Cameron said that it will take 300 artists 60 weeks at a cost of $18 million to create the 3-D version of "Titanic," which will include no new material. Landau noted t the film also will be rereleased in 2-D and that the "2-D is going to be a better print than anything we could have done at the time" because they have since created a "digital master" of the film.
Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox are set to rerelease "Titanic" on April 6, 2012, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic setting sail on April 10, 1912. After it debuted in 1997, "Titanic" won 11 Academy Awards and grossed more than $1.8 billion worldwide, second only to Cameron's later blockbuster "Avatar," which was filmed in 3-D and released in 2009.
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AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang/.