Titanic 3D may have sailed to the top of the North American box office chart on Wednesday, grossing an estimated $4.7 million at about 2,600 locations according to The Hollywood Reporter. That figure includes $300,000 earned at Tuesday night previews, and 71 IMAX screens. Directed by James Cameron, who made perfectly-timed headlines about a week ago thanks to a quick deep-sea trek, the 1997 megablockbuster stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
Titanic's chief competition for the no. 1 slot is 2012's own megablockbuster, Jennifer Lawrence / Liam Hemsworth / Josh Hutcherson's The Hunger Games. The Gary Ross dystopian adventure drama earned an estimated $4.6-$4.7 million on Wednesday – without the added Tuesday night bonus or box-office-boosting 3D surcharges.
Paramount is (officially) estimating Titanic 3D will rake in $20 to $25 million by Friday. 20th Century Fox is handling the film's international release.
Launched in December 1997, the original Titanic grossed $1.8 billion worldwide. For those who choose to ignore the Inflation Effect, Cameron's romantic-disaster melodrama was the all-time top-grossing movie until Cameron's own Avatar, released in December 2009. Needless to say, neither movie actually sold more tickets than Clark Gable / Vivien Leigh's Gone with the Wind, George Lucas' Star Wars, Robert Wise / Julie Andrews' The Sound of Music, or Steven Spielberg's Jaws, to name a few.
Paramount, Fox, and Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment have reportedly spent 60 weeks and $18 million on Titanic's full restoration and 2D-to-3D conversion.
In early 1998, Titanic was nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards. (Its predecessor was Joseph L. Mankiewicz / Bette Davis' 1950 dramatic comedy All About Eve.) Cameron's movie went on to receive 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, thus tying the record of William Wyler / Charlton Heston's 1959 epic Ben-Hur. (In early 2004, Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, would also win 11 Oscars.)
Kate Winslet, veteran Gloria Stuart (Roman Scandals, The Invisible Man, The Old Dark House), and the Titanic's make-up crew were the only Titanic nominees who went home empty-handed: Winslet lost to Helen Hunt in James L. Brooks' As Good as It Gets, Stuart lost to Kim Basinger in Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential, while Tommy Lee Jones / Will Smith's Men in Black won for Best Make-Up.
Both Leonardo DiCaprio and James Cameron's screenplay were bypassed by the Academy. Else, Titanic would have boasted a record-smashing 16 Oscar nominations.
In addition to DiCaprio, Winslet, and Stuart, Titanic features The Roommate / The Mule's Billy Zane, Misery / Primary Colors' Kathy Bates (as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”), Haywire / Shanghai Calling's Bill Paxton, The Host / Gone in Sixty Seconds' Frances Fisher, Valkyrie / Gandhi's Bernard Hill, Morgan! / A Doll's House's David Warner, Victor Garber, The Usual Suspects / Firestorm's Suzy Amis (Cameron's wife since 2000), Mark Lindsay Chapman, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Nucci, and Sanctum / Fantastic Four's Ioan Gruffudd.
Kate Winslet / Titanic 3D photo: Paramount / 20th Century Fox.