James Cameron‘s Titanic opened on 12.19.97 — almost exactly 25 years ago. I had seen it on the Paramount lot in mid November and knew it was a meltdown and a humdinger, but it took a while for the word to get out. The social media factor was zip back then — online reporting was just starting to happen (my first online column appeared in October ’98) with most of the world still following print.

It’s not commonly recalled that while it opened very strongly, the super-thunderous business didn’t happen immediately. Theatres didn’t begin to sell out until the end of that weekend. The first weekend earned $28,638,131 in 2,674 theaters, but the following weekend it made $35.6 million, for Chrissake. After 40 days in theatres Titanic hit $300 million. It finally wound up with $659.4 million domestic and 2.195 billion worldwide.

I haven’t re-watched Titanic since the 3D re-release, which I wasn’t floored by. The 3D effect was….well, modest.

Most people paid no mind to the 1.33 “boxy” Titanic that was released on Pioneer laserdisc on 10.13.98. It retailed for $49.98. Cameron’s film had been shot on open-matte super 35mm, allowing it to be cropped to widescreen proportions (2.39:1) for theatrical. I owned a laserdisc player back then, but I never saw the boxy. Just for fun I’d like to watch a 1080p version of this.

I attended a magnificent holiday party at Robert Towne‘s Pacific Palisades home in mid-November of 1997. Towne had hired three professional singers to roam around his large abode and sing Christmas carols in perfect harmony, all dressed in Dickensian garb such as top hats, shawls, bonnets, gloves and hoop skirts. The party smelled of cinnamon, turkey, cigar smoke, turkey gravy, stuffing, egg nog…glorious.

L.A. Confidential director Curtis Hanson was there; ditto Jerry Bruckheimer. Everyone was buzzing about Hanson’s film and what seemed like an excellent chance of it winning the Best Picture Oscar. And then director Phillip Noyce told Hanson he’d just seen Titanic. “It really works,” Noyce said, and I think on some level (and I felt badly about this) Hanson sensed an inkling of what was to come. The dashing of his dream. And if he didn’t sense it, I sure did.