By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 19, 2011 at 1:23AM
After a dozen years as the top-grossing film of all time, a seemingly once-in-a-generation phenomenon, James Cameron's action-heavy period romance "Titanic" was finally unseated from its position as the biggest grossing film of all time by... James Cameron's action-heavy futuristic romance, "Avatar," which topped the earlier film's seemingly unbeatable $1,800,000,000 haul by nearly a billion dollars. But with "Avatar 2" not expected in theaters until 2015, the director has to find some way of keeping his coffers topped up (transplanting yourself into a Na'vi doesn't come cheap, you know), so he's going back to his number two film to give it the one thing it was missing before: a third dimension.
A press release from Paramount has confirmed what's been suspected for some time: that the traditionally anti-post-conversion Cameron has been working on transplanting "Titanic" into 3D, and that the studio will re-release the film, alongside original partners 20th Century Fox, next year. More precisely, it'll be on April 6th, 2012, a date chosen with particular significance to the storyline, as the Titanic set sail on its maiden, and only, voyage, on April 10th, 1912, so the re-release will mark the centenary of the boat's journey. And, you know, its sinking.
Cameron comments that "There's a whole generation that's never seen "Titanic" as it was meant to be seen, on the big screen. And this will be "Titanic" as you've never seen it before, digitally re-mastered at 4K and painstakingly converted to 3D. With the emotional power intact and the images more powerful than ever, this will be an epic experience for fans and newcomers alike," while Paramount boss Brad Grey adds that "This new presentation of Paramount’s top-grossing film is particularly special because 2012 is the 100th anniversary of our studio. Paramount has had the pleasure of introducing audiences to some of the all-time classics of cinema during that century of moviemaking and we cannot think of a better way to mark the occasion than with this re-release of "Titanic".” You know we'd have settled for a new print of "The Godfather," right?
While the film is distinctly unlikely to come anywhere near its original box-office take, it'll still likely be a serious heavyweight at the box office, and could cause problems for its immediate competition, the Henry Cavill actioner "The Cold Light of Day" and "American Pie" fourquel "American Reunion," either of which could well shift dates. A knock-on effect may also be felt the week before: prospective blockbusters "The Pirates 3D" and "Clash of the Titans 2" were already faced with the prospect of sharing the 3D screens with each other, but the arrival of Cameron's heavyweight may send them scurrying elsewhere in the calendar, particularly with March already looking tentpole-heavy.
It's not the only film by an already-loaded auteur to get the treatment: next year will see the distinctly less-beloved "Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace" re-released in 3D on February 10th. For the record, "Titanic 3D" will continue to star Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Bill Paxton, Suzy Amis, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, the late Gloria Stuart and Bernard Hill, it'll continue to be written and directed by Cameron, and it'll continue to be Cameron's least good film. But fans can check it out worldwide on April 6th, 2012.