At the time, Titanic's massive budget paired with the studio's insistence that the film would be worth it led much of the media to actively root against the film — and its director
James Cameron knew everything was riding on the success of Titanic.
Now two studios were onboard and invested. Paramount had taken a share of the film, and Fox still worried about ever making up the $230M budget that they calculated would be the price tag of this film.
Just to break even, Titanic would need to be one of the biggest hits of all-time.
So when opening weekend came and went, and Titanic was nowhere close to the trajectory needed, James began to worry, and slipped into depression.
The story is told in Episode 10 of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON — the award-winning "biopic podcast" series, starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, from filmmaker and journalist Matt Schrader.
James' friends were noticing his depression. He'd even doubled down, when confronted by Fox executive Bill Mechanic to cut scenes and get the budget under control. James tried, and also agreed to give up his share in the film's backend — the revenue generated after all costs were paid.
It was starting to look like there might not be any at all. In fact, both studios would take a huge financial hit as a result.
James felt he'd gambled everything in his career for this, and it would be seen as the largest embarrassment in film history. He'd never earn back that hit to his reputation.
This is featured in BLOCKBUSTER, free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Podcast Miniseries.
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Series creator Matt Schrader (Twitter): http://twitter.com/mattschrader