For sixteen weeks after its release on December 19, 1997, Titanic sat at the top of the box office charts, an unsinkable cinematic juggernaut that captivated audiences and brought them back to the theater, over and over and over again. The phenomenon was unheard of, and its tractor beam effect helped James Cameron’s historical epic become the highest grossing film of all time.
Everyone has seen Titanic. Whether someone caught in during its maiden voyage or they were later sat down by disgruntled friends and family and forced to enter the pop culture fray, if you are a human being on the planet Earth, you’ve seen Titanic (and for those aliens who feel slighted by that comment, I apologize. I’m assuming you’ve also seen it too). Being a monumental movie experience means that those who’ve seen Titanic (emphasis: everyone) has a Titanic story. I took the crow’s nest to rally the Hollywood.com crew to spill the beans on their Titanic viewing tales. Unsurprisingly, the infamous “sketching naked Rose” pops up as a throughline:
My brother threw up during the nude drawing scene. I then proceeded to see the film 7 more times. I also read the CD insert so many times the pages fell apart. My parents eventually banned the soundtrack in the house because the neighbors said they were tired of hearing “My Heart Will Go On.” I was mildly (absurdly) obsessed. So yes, I think I can contribute to this piece – Kelsea Stahler
Well, I obviously saw it five times at the Lowes Cherry Hill, NJ theatre. The first time, of course, was most memorable: My dad took me and my friend Ashlee Feldman (Who — TRIVIA ALERT — later went on to star in The Real World: New Orleans. She was the boring one.). It was horrifying because Ashlee and I were eleven, and watching sex/naked scenes with my dad, who was trying so, so hard to joke about it. A nightmarish scenario at that age. – Shaunna Murphy
A testament to the hard-hitting human drama of Titanic, the movie actually threw me into a fit of panic. The movie came out when I was nine years old, and it really got to me. So much so that, while watching it in the theaters, I actually had an anxiety attack over the thought that Jack and Rose might not make it. I eventually learned, after being escorted from the theater, that they hadn’t. This has stuck with me. – Michael Arbeiter
I tried to be counter-culture as a thirteen-year-old, so I avoided going to it for about two months. I was finally roped in by a friend to see it and hated. Every. Second. (My fifteen-year-old brother had seen it four times — I didn’t register why until I saw the nude scene.) But then I happened to befriend a Leo-obsessed girl, who made me watch every single film Leo ever starred in. I think my life hit a low sometime during Critters 3 – Kate Ward
I actually don’t remember if I saw it in the theater. Honest. Though I do still watch pieces of it when it’s on TV (every single night!). It’s hard not to appreciate certain aspects of it, like the sheer scope of the whole thing — from the screenplay to the effects to James Cameron managing all those extras! It doesn’t quite sweep me off my feet like it does my, and everyone else’s, girlfriend. And toward the end, when Fabrizio (if that’s Leo’s character’s friend’s name in the movie) yells “Bastardo!” in a way-too-Italian accent…I never don’t laugh. Which shouldn’t be happening near the emotional climax of a movie. No idea how Cameron didn’t edit that out.- Brian Marder
I was one of those girls that saw it multiple times in the theater (eight total, including a double feature in one afternoon/evening) but the worst was one Saturday night when I went and sat in front of my teachers. I don’t know whether I was more embarrassed about having to watch the sex scene in their presence or crying like a baby in front of them, but even at the age of 12 I was mortified. That said, it didn’t stop me from seeing it again…and again…and again. – Aly Semigran
And me? Titanic is one of the only movies I saw with my entire family. We caught it a few weeks into the run, but by then, I had already heard “My Heart Will Go On” 18,000 times thanks to the bevy of middle school girls who had finally found a reason for living. My family arrived an hour early to the multiplex, only to find a near-packed theater (a completely different scenario than the last movie we all saw together: Mr. Magoo). My Mom, Dad and sister grabbed a trio of seats, leaving me to fend for myself — and at a movie I had no interest in, no less. An hour in, I was teetering on the edge of completely checked out. Unlike the weepy crowd around me, I failed to connect with Leo and Kate’s dream romance (“No, I don’t need a tissue. Thanks.). We all knew how the movie was going to end, what was the point? But little did I realize the boat sinking sequence would wake me out of my coma and capture my attention the way it did. This future film buff lit up. Someone should have reminded me the guy who made Terminator 2 directed Titanic.
April 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the original Titanic’s departure and today, April 4, Titanic 3D hits theaters.
Do you remember the first time you saw Titanic? Tell us your story!