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'Titanic 3D': Producer Jon Landau previews the dimensionalised epic

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After the massive success of Avatar, it was inevitable that director James Cameron would look at his back catalogue for films to retrofit into 3D.

Avoiding the obvious sci-fi flicks, he's instead gone for 1997 blockbuster Titanic, which has been neatly timed for the original movie's 15th anniversary and the centenary of the sinking of that famous ship.

This morning, Digital Spy caught eight scenes (around 20 minutes) of the 3D reworking of the film, and took part in a Q&A with producer Jon Landau all about the re-release. Here's what we found out.

Titanic 3D re-release: Director James Cameron directs his stars on the ballroom set.


It's not in-your-face
Once you get over how young Kate Winslet looks, how callow Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack seems and how lustrous Billy Zane's hair is, you certainly notice that extra dimension, but it's very restrained and rarely distracting. That's especially true in the action, ship-in-the-air, waving-axe type scenes.

"When you have a fast-cut action sequence, it's not about 3D," Landau explained. "So you can go with less 3D in those shots. That was something that we learned on Avatar. If you're watching the action, you're not taking in the 3D. If you're looking at a shot of the Grand Canyon, that's about 3D."

"I believe the scenes where the 3D is most compelling are the dramatic scenes," he added. "In the action scenes you don't need that."

It doesn't look cheap
The dimensionalising, if that's a word (it really isn't) has been done painstakingly, "every shot, frame-by-frame". Whatever reservations you might have about 3D, this looks pretty lush.

Jon said that while some new movies get a six-week conversion process, this has taken 60, and cost a whopping $18 million. Before they even started with the stereoscopy, they made a 4K archival master, O-negative 2D print (nope, us either...), which will also be re-released alongside the new 3D version.

But there's been no other tweaking
"We made that decision really early on," the producer said. "This is re-presenting the same movie. It was a discipline we had to go through." So no guns switched with walkie-talkies here!

"I didn't want the 'Where's Waldo' effect," he added. "We didn't people watching the movie hearing, 'Oh, they've changed four things'... and going 'Is it this, is it that?' This is just about experiencing the film. We handcuffed our hands and said we're just going to present the movie the way it was."


But isn't this like sticking Casablanca in colour?
Jon said that having the filmmaker involved is the key. "Conversion to 3D is not a technical process," he claimed. "Technology is involved in the process, but it's an artistic process... it's not like TNT converting something from black and white to colour and try and repurpose it."

And is it all about the money, money, money?
Nope, said Jon, and "nobody knows who's going to show up, by the way". "We're in a business, the film business," he added. "What's wrong with going out there and filling the cinemas when people talk about cinema's decline? What's wrong with selling popcorn? What's wrong with employing all the people that work in the theatre and are doing those things?"

"We're also the ones who are sitting there spending $18 million converting it," he huffed. "We're the ones who are going to market the movie like it's a big movie. We're the ones who are taking the risk, so if people wanna go, that's great.

"We're doing it because we believe there's a generation of moviegoers who have never seen Titanic on the big screen... There are people who'll go and see this movie now who were conceived the night their parents saw the movie!"

Titanic 3D re-release: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack and Kate Winslet as Rose


"I think it's good for the industry," he claimed. "This is why people go to the movies. It separates it. Our TVs get bigger, as our internet stream is faster, why do we still go to the movies? Because there are certain movies that you want to experience on the big screen.

"We believe we have a responsibility to drive people out of their homes and to the theatres. What people have experienced for the last 15 years of watching Titanic on their home televisions or even their iPhones, is not the same thing as sitting in a darkened theatre and sharing that experience and seeing it up on the big screen."

Is he worried about international broadcasts of ITV's own Titanic stealing their thunder?
"Going back 15 years, NBC did a miniseries with George C Scott called Titanic. It did not impact us one way or the other," he said. "I think it's a good thing. Any time someone's out there talking about their show, they're talking about the ship, they're saying the name of our movie!"

Titanic will return to 3D, Digital 2D and IMAX screens on April 6, 2012.

Will you see Titanic in 3D when it's re-released this spring? Let us know in the space below

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