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‘Titanic' Resurfaces for Special Edition DVD

16 Mar, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Cameron (L) and producer Jon Landau at the press conference.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Director James Cameron, Paramount Home Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment announced this week they are diving back into Titanic for a dual special edition release this October.

A specific street date has not yet been set, but two special edition DVD versions of the film will arrive in time for fourth-quarter 2005.

Cameron and producers went back to the Titanic vaults and are hauling out 58 minutes of deleted scenes, time-elapsed photography of the building of the enormous and extravagant sets used for the film, footage of the cast shot on a 1912 vintage hand-crank camera to look like period newsreel, and a new retrospective making-of documentary.

One deleted scene includes an expensive sequence shot in the elaborate dining room set as the ship sank, but was cut because it didn't play well to screening audiences, Cameron said.

The DVDs also will include director's commentary and Dolby 6.1 sound. The video comes from a high-definition transfer of the film.

The deleted scenes will not be edited back into the film for a director's re-cut, Cameron said, but instead will be accessed through branching menus throughout the DVD.

The two-disc release will include the commentaries and some of the deleted scenes. The four-disc set adds the new documentaries and includes all the deleted scenes.

Paramount will release the DVDs domestically and Fox internationally.

Titanic fans won't necessarily feel like they need to buy both versions, said the film's producer Jon Landau.

“We want fans to pick the version that they will enjoy the most,” he said. “The four-disc set will be more detailed, more complex.”

People have been asking Cameron for years when a special edition Titanic DVD would come out, the director said. He and the studios and producers have been “strategizing” for one for about two years, he said.

“We think it's going to be a first-class presentation,” Cameron said. “We think it's going to answer the desires and requests of the fan base.”

When people think of the 1997 box office hit Titanic, they likely remember all the money it made in theaters ($600 million domestically, $1.2 billion worldwide); its 11 Academy Awards (including best director and best picture); its success on home video (it was the first DVD to ship more than 1 million units in North America and worldwide has sold 8 million DVD and 59 million VHS units), Landau said.

The special edition DVD release will help remind fans of the incredible and risky undertaking that was the $200-million production of the film, he said, in part via a documentary already in the works from filmmaker Ed Marsh.

Marsh also worked with Cameron on a making-of documentary for The Abyss. He's now interviewing crew, cast and executives involved in the filming of Titanic, which entailed literally building a complete movie studio, not to mention a ship model the size of several football fields in about 100 days.

For all the subsequent payoff, it was a rather dark time, Cameron recalls. It was difficult to maintain creative focus under the “media cloud” Titanic faced at the time of filming, he said.

“It was a polar experience,” Cameron said. “It took its toll on people, tested the character of people involved, most of whom are interviewed in the documentary.”

“From every film I make. I keep one prop or piece of set,” he said. “From Titanic, I kept the ship's wheel, because I felt like I knew what it was to be at the helm of a sinking ship.”

For the upcoming DVD release, Cameron is focusing on creative issues, like bringing the quality of the included deleted scenes — most of which were cut well before the extensive editing and scoring post-production process — up to the level of the film itself. He's leaving the technical details of the DVD authoring to DVD producer Van Ling, who also worked on the DVD for Terminator 2.

Cameron also said he's looking forward to a future high-definition release of Titanic, but nothing's in the works at this time. He also wouldn't say whether he had a preference between the two competing formats, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

“I've seen both, and they both look pretty good to me,” he said.

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