LOS ANGELES —
Once the film opened, with solid though unremarkable revenue and reviews praising its spectacular re-creation of the ship's sinking, Cameron hoped it would stay afloat through January and maybe February so that it would have a chance to break even.
It wound up making back its money many times over, remained the No. 1 domestic box-office draw for a record 15-straight weekends through the end of March, and picked up the best picture and director prizes among its Oscar trophies. Girls went to see it again and again, pining over heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, who became an overnight superstar along with Kate Winslet for their shipboard romance.
Many critics found the love story sappy, but no one could deny that Cameron had made a spectacle for the ages, one that might have failed if not for the director's notoriously demanding standards. Water shoots are among the toughest on actors and crew, yet Cameron was undeterred, even after a difficult time with his previous ocean adventure, 1989's "The Abyss."
"Yes, it was hard, but no one ever said it was going to be easy," Winslet said. "When all the stories started emerging about how tough it had been and Jim Cameron being mean to everybody and costs over-running, I went, wait a minute, what makes these people think they can speculate about all of this? They weren't there.
"Yes, he lost his temper, but he only ever lost his temper for really, really good reasons. Like we would spend days literally setting up a shot, and if someone isn't doing his job and dumps water ten seconds too late, then we've got to start over. ... Yeah, I could understand that man getting a little (ticked) off."
Cameron's photo-realistic computer effects on "Titanic" helped propel Hollywood into the digital age, and he continued his innovations with the underwater 3-D documentaries "Ghosts of the Abyss" and "Aliens of the Deep."