15 Fun Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘Titanic’

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You’ve probably watched “Titanic” at least once (or 100 times), just like nearly everyone else in the world. It continues to be one of the highest-grossing films ever made — even 20 years after its release — but even if you’ve seen it more than you care to admit, do you think you know all there is to know? Come aboard and find out if you’re a “Titanic” expert!

1. Replacement Reels Were A Necessity

Don’t feel too bad if you’re like us and couldn’t get enough of the movie—both when it came out and now. (We’re holding our breath for a different ending, OK?!) Paramount actually had to send replacement reels to theaters because cinemas wore out their copies.


2. Leo’s Hands Weren’t His Own In The Drawing Scene

The hands seen drawing Rose in the “Heart of the Ocean” scene are not Leonardo DiCaprio’s. Instead, they belong to director James Cameron. Cameron not only drew Rose, but he also drew every sketch Jack carries around in his binder.


3. The First Scene Filmed Was One Of The Raciest

Speaking of the drawing scene, it was actually the first scene filmed for the movie—even though it’s in pretty much the middle of the film. Talk about a way to “break the ice.” (Pun intended).

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images

4. J. Dawson Was A Real Person

There was a real J. Dawson! Director James Cameron says he didn’t know there was a Dawson aboard the ship when he wrote the movie. Joseph Dawson was a member of the Titanic crew.


5. They Had One Shot To Get It Right

In the scene where the water comes flooding through the Grand Staircase room, filmmakers only had one shot because the entire set was destroyed. To make the destruction so dramatic, they dropped 90,000 gallons of water onto the staircase.

6. Cameron’s Research Involved Some Serious Deep-Sea Diving

Director James Cameron went on dives to the real Titanic. He ended up spending more time with the ship than the living passengers did.


7. The Runtime Is Significant

The runtime of the movie from the first time Titanic leaves port all the way to the sinking is 2 hours, 40 minutes — exactly how long it took the real Titanic to sink.


8. The Older Rose Wasn’t THAT Old

With a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at age 87, Gloria Stuart (who played the older Rose), became the oldest person ever to be nominated for an Oscar. Her character in the movie was 101, so makeup was used to make Stuart appear older. She died in 2010 at age 100. (Bonus fact: She was the only person who worked on the film who was actually living when the Titanic sank.)

gloria stuart photo
Getty Images | Alberto E. Rodriguez

9. Building The Titanic Cost Almost As Much As Making The Movie

It cost $7.5 million to build the Titanic. Taking inflation into consideration, that would be about $180 million today. James Cameron’s budget for the film was $200 million in 1997.

titanic photo
Getty Images | David Paul Morris

10. You Probably Knew The Water Was Freezing—But Man, That’s Cold

The temperature of the seawater in the area where the Titanic sank was -2 degrees Celsius (28.4 degrees Fahrenheit). In the film when Rose is looking for Jack through the corridors of the ship, her reaction to the water is genuine — it was from the Pacific Ocean and was very cold. Kate Winslet did not wear a wet suit while filming the scenes in the colder water and in turn came down with pneumonia.


11. Hallucinations Were Experienced

While the hypothermia experienced by the ship’s passengers could certainly cause some bizarre behavior, hallucinations experienced by cast and crew on the set of the film were from a different source — a prankster. Someone spiked the soup served to the cast and crew with phencyclidine, also known as PCP. After the meal, about 80 crew members were hospitalized, complaining of hallucinations.


12. The Video Release Was A First

Due to its popularity, “Titanic” was the first film to be released on video while it was still in theaters. While most films don’t stay in theaters for more than a few months, cinemas played “Titanic” for more than nine months — some even running it for a year. It debuted in theaters on Dec. 19, 1997 and was still in some theaters when it was released on VHS on Sept. 1, 1998.


13. You’ll Never Guess The Film’s Original “Name”

The film was originally called “Planet Ice.” Well, kind of. Director James Cameron wanted to keep “Titanic” secretive while filming icebergs, so “Planet Ice” was the decoy title.

14. The Theme Song That Almost Wasn’t

James Cameron didn’t want “Titanic” to have a theme song (or any songs with lyrics). Composer James Horner had Celine Dion record “My Heart Will Go On,” however, and Cameron eventually changed his mind and included it in the movie. Dion, however, didn’t like the song and her first take, a demo, was actually used.

15. That Floating Door That Was Just Too Small…

The piece of wooden paneling Rose floats on after the ship sank is based on an actual artifact that survived the sinking. The lounge panel fragment is on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Nova Scotia. (Also, can we just take this time to say he could have totally fit on the door. Even Kate Winslet says so.)

Now go grab some tissues, pop in the movie and hope this time, Jack tries more than once to get out of the water.

[h/t: Twenty Two Words]