“I'm the king of the world!” yells Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic – and director James Cameron screamed the very same line even louder while collecting his numerous awards and his gazillion dollars for this very fortunate movie. The film has been described as “Romeo and Juliet on a sinking ship”, and what a spectacular sinking it was. Cameron forfeited his salary and put some of his own money in order to be able to finish this hugely expensive production (budgeted over $240 million, a record at that time), and doing so pocketed a fat paycheck (the film grossed more than $660 million only in the US in its first theatrical release – and it went on to reach $2 billion worldwide in just a few months).
The fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, starring DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard, won four Golden Globes (Best Film-Drama, Best Director – Cameron – Best Original Score – James Horner – and Best Song, the hit “My Heart Will Go On” sung by Celine Dion). Titanic went on to win 11 Oscars (out of a record 14 nominations).
At the 55th Golden Globe Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Titanic came in as the heavy favorite and prevailed over The Boxer, L.A. Confidential, Good Will Hunting, and Amistad. Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Actress-Drama, but Judi Dench won for Mrs. Brown; DiCaprio also was nominated, but Peter Fonda won for Ulee's Gold. Cameron was nominated for Best Screenwriting, but that was the year in which young and relatively unknown Matt Damon and Ben Affleck took everyone by surprise with Good Will Hunting.
Titanic was filmed at Fox Baja Studios in Rosarito, Baja California – where a huge water tank was built –, Halifax (Nova Scotia), and Vancouver, Canada. Cameron went on the dives to the real Titanic himself and found it an overwhelming emotional experience to actually see it. He said the Titanic was “the Everest of all shipwrecks”. At $200 plus million, the movie cost more than the Titanic itself.
Cameron wanted to push the boundaries of special effects with his film, and enlisted his own company, Digital Domain, to continue the developments in digital technology, which the director pioneered while working on The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Titanic was admired, not only as an epic melodrama but also as a special FX marvel, showing big screen visuals that were never seen before. Critics by and large embraced Cameron's feel for a grand show.