James Cameron and producer Jon Landau presented 8 scenes (or about 18 minutes) from Titanic 3D earlier today at the Paramount studios in Hollywood to highly positive reviews. Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment reportedly spent 60 weeks and $18 million on the 2D-to-3D conversion and full restoration of the 1997 blockbuster and multiple Oscar winner. (Cameron says the new Titanic is in “2.99D,” which is superior to the “2.4D” of most conversions.)
As quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, Cameron's reasoning for rereleasing Titanic was the following: “There are certain films that [warrant] being brought back to the theater. There is a whole generation of people who haven't seen it at all.”
That has always been the Disney motto. The studio has been particularly successful in the rereleases of its movies – especially when there's something “new” added to yesteryear's hit – as can be attested by the biggest box office success of this fall season in North America, The Lion King 3D. A mere rerelease, in this age of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, isn't enough, as Cameron himself can testify after his Avatar rerelease – which featured only a few extra minutes of footage – bombed about a year ago.
Time Warner will likely use a similar “turn the old into new” tactic if (or rather, when) it decides to rerelease the Harry Potter movies on the big screen: see them all in 3D. Of course, chances are nil that Time Warner will want to rerelease Gone with the Wind in 3D as well, but the biggest box office hit of them all – adjusted for inflation – was a gigantic hit when rereleased “as new,” reformatted to 70mm and with stereophonic sound back in 1967.
Titanic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, a record-tying feat (with Ben-Hur, 1959). Kate Winslet, veteran Gloria Stuart, and the make-up crew were the only Titanic nominees that failed to take home an Oscar statuette. (Winslet lost to Helen Hunt in As Good as It Gets; Stuart lost to Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential; Men in Black won for Best Make-Up.) Leonardo DiCaprio, I should add, was not nominated. James Cameron's screenplay wasn't, either.
Titanic 3D opens next April 6.
Titanic photo: 20th Century Fox / Paramount.
Early reactions to Titanic 3D have been highly favorable James Cameron directed. Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Gloria Stuart star. See below:
“The footage I saw this morning left me speechless. I'm not joking around when I say it's the best post conversion I've ever seen and it looks like they originally shot it in 3D back in 1997. … even if you see the film in 2D or 3D in April, you will not believe how crystal clear the images are and how good the film looks. However, before you start to think Cameron made any changes to the actual film, he told us they are not editing a single scene. He's not pulling a George Lucas.” Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub at Collider.com. [At the Titanic 3D presentation, James Cameron said he didn't have “that revisionist gene.” That's not true, as Avatar's rerelease featured extra footage.]
“I know what you're thinking. James Cameron's Titanic in 3D? Come on, really? But bear with, it's actually not that bad. … Most already know I'm not a fan of 3D in general (especially converted 3D), but I will honestly say this was impressive. Cameron showed scenes to 'jog our memory' of the movie, and he certainly did, as most of us in attendance this morning were considerably impressed by how good Titanic looked in 3D. Alex Billington at First Showing.
“I wasn't blown away by the 3D-converted footage I just saw of Titanic, and I think that's a good thing. A great thing, actually. … Not only will people flock to the upgraded Best Picture winner, they'll find the conversion to be an incredible experience, albeit more familiar than new.” Christopher Campbell at Spout.
“And the 3D looks almost as good as natively shot 3D – actually, if I had never seen the movie before, you would have been able to convince me of such with some of these clips. It may help that Cameron's cinematography is usually slow and steady and wonderfully composed for depth. It also helps that Cameron spent one year and something close to $20 million to convert the film to 3D. While this is time and money that new releases will never have to post convert, it sets a bar for the 3D re-releases we're likely to see in the future.” Peter Sciretta at SlashFilm.
James Cameron's quote via The Hollywood Reporter. Titanic photo: 20th Century Fox / Paramount.
'Avatar' Most Pirated Movie Ever + Biggest Modern Blockbuster & Year's Biggest DVD hit
Avatar is the most pirated movie of all time according to the website TorrentFreak. Citing statistics “gathered from public BitTorrent trackers, dating back to early 2006,” Avatar was downloaded an estimated 21 million times.
James Cameron's environmentally conscious sci-fier, which went on to gross $2.78 billion at the worldwide box office, was followed by two other major worldwide blockbusters: Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and Michael Bay's Transformers, both downloaded an estimated 19 million times. Next in line were Nolan's Inception (18m) and Todd Phillips' The Hangover (17m). Rounding out the top ten were J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (16m); Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass (15m); and Martin Scorsese's The Departed, Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk, and Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (14 million each).
TorrentFreak seems to find a somewhat ominous correlation between the top-ten most pirated movies and Netflix's top-ten most rented movies: only The Departed and Inception, both starring Leonardo DiCaprio, are to be found on the two lists. In other words, pirates don't need to rent movies. But such conclusions may be a bit too simplistic.
According to estimates found on The Numbers' 2010 DVD/Blu-ray sales chart, in the United States alone Avatar sold 10.17 million units in 2010, more than any other movie that year, while generating $183.63 million in revenues. Of the top-ten movies found on the 2010 DVD/Blu-ray sales chart, only two are found on Netflix's list as well: the Sandra Bullock blockbuster The Blind Side and The Hangover, which can also be found among the top ten DVD sales for 2009.
In other words, if you buy the DVD, you don't need to rent it from Netflix or anywhere else. Additionally, that shows pirated downloads don't necessarily lead to studios losing millions on DVD/Blu-ray sales. I mean, if The Numbers' figures are accurate, was Warner Bros. really expecting to sell many more than 10.28 million units of The Hangover?
For comparison's sake: None of the (so far) three Twilight movies was among TorrentFreak's top-ten most pirated flicks. All three Twilight movies have an ardently devoted following thanks to the presence of Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner. Twilight, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse sold an estimated 10.23 million, 7.82 million, and 8.11 million units, respectively, vs. The Hangover's aforementioned 10.28 million units.
Two other crucial bits of data are missing from the TorrentFreak estimates: visual/audio quality of the downloaded movies and the locale where those pirated movies were downloaded. Was it Blu-ray quality? Crappy videocamera stuff? Does the illicit downloading of movies take place mostly in the United States? How many of those downloaded movies end up in computers and markets in Pakistan or Iran or Egypt or Bangladesh, places where people might have trouble finding Hollywood movies – and even if they did, most of them wouldn't be able to afford buying a movie ticket or a DVD anyway?
Now, in case those estimates at TorrentFreak are indeed accurate, one thing that can be ascertained about pirated movies is that Harry Potter and, as mentioned above, The Twilight Saga fans don't have what it takes to become the 21st-century cyber-Jean Lafittes. Australian cops (abetted by that country's justice system), however …
Avatar picture: ILM / 20th Century Fox.