The epic love story Titanic, which earned two billion dollars at the box office and won 11 Academy Awards, is making its highly anticipated debut on Blu-ray, in high definition 2D and 3D, on September 10th. Whether choose the 2D Blu-ray/DVD combo pack or you go for the ultimate experience in immersive 3D, you will get four discs that feature more than two-and-a-half hours of new bonus footage, including an in-depth exploration of the film with James Cameron, documentary footage, 30 deleted scenes, over 60 behind-the-scenes featurettes, more than 2,000 photos, commentaries and more.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, producer and longtime James Cameron collaborator Jon Landau talked about the phenomenal reward of having the hugely successful film also stand the test of time, the biggest way in which Titanic changed his life, what he’s most excited about fans getting to see on the Blu-ray, his favorite deleted scene, and the challenges of post-converting an older movie. He also talked about the possibility of converting Terminator 2 and Aliens to 3D, how he feels about 48 frames per second and the future of projection, the current status of the release date and scripts for more Avatar films, the recent advances in technology that he’s most looking forward to incorporating into future movies, 3D as the future of home entertainment, and the most rewarding part of his years of collaboration with Cameron. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Collider: Obviously, having one of the most successful films of all time is a huge accomplishment in itself, but what’s it like to also have one that’s also been so enduring? Do you still feel an ownership of it, or does it feel much bigger than that now?
JON LANDAU: Well, I think we feel a shared ownership because Titanic is the result of hundreds, if not thousands, of people’s extraordinary efforts. So, never can you sit there and say, “Look what I did.” It’s always, “Look what we did. Look what we accomplished.” The idea that we are here, really 15 years after the fact, talking about this movie and people are responding to it the way they did with the theatrical re-release earlier this year, truly there’s nothing more rewarding. When you can have something that you are a part of creating stand the test of time, that is a phenomenal reward.
Titanic clearly changed the lives of everyone involved with it. What was the biggest way that it changed your life?
LANDAU: You know, I would say that I think the biggest way it changed my life was, as a producer, you always feel that you’re going to have anonymity in your life. Suddenly, with the popularity of the film and the exposure on the Oscars and the other press we did, that anonymity disappeared a little bit. Maybe I could no longer honk my horn when someone was slow in front of me while I was driving.
With the two-and-a-half hours of new special feature content on this Blu-ray, what are you most excited about fans getting to see?
LANDAU: I think the idea of the documentary that they put together with interviews where people get to reflect back. You never get to see that, usually, when you have supplemental material because that material is put together during the course of production, and then it’s made available later. But, we have Kate [Winslet] talking about it with 15 years of perspective, and we have Jim [Cameron] and other people talking about it, being able to look back on what that experience and having gone through that meant. I think that’s a very unique offering throughout the home entertainment market, and we can offer that.
Do you have a favorite deleted scene?
LANDAU: If you look at the deleted scenes, I love the scene where Kate [Winslet] and Leo [DiCaprio] are on the deck at night, following the third-class party. He introduces, “Come Josephine, In My Flying Machine,” which is repeated later on, in the movie. I think that’s exciting.
The 3D conversion for Titanic is just amazing, but what were the challenges of post-converting an older movie and what did you learn from that process that you can apply to future post-conversions?
LANDAU: Number one, it takes time. Number two, it’s a creative process, not a technical process, and it’s important that filmmakers be involved in the process. We took more than a year to convert the film. We looked at every shot in the film, as if it was a new visual effects shot. Jim [Cameron] reviewed it with his same perfectionist eye that he would look at a close-up of Neytiri with, and we placed objects in three-dimensional space to enhance the storytelling. Where people get confused is that 3D, to us, is as much about the dramatic scenes, if not more, than the action scenes. So, it was about making those dramatic scenes work and making people feel as if they were, as an audience member, in this small, private moment with Jack (DiCaprio) and Rose (Winslet). When he pulls her into the gym and says, “You’re a butterfly caught in the jar,” as an audience member, the 3D puts you in that room, and that was our goal. It’s a testament to many, many people who worked so hard.
Do you think that James Cameron is ever going to post-convert movies like Terminator 2 and Aliens?
LANDAU: I think, if we get through the next two Avatars, Jim would love to. I think Jim really feels that the 3D enhances the storytelling process, and I think both of those movies would be ideal candidates to do this with.
What are your thoughts on 48 frames per second and 60 frames per second? Do you think that is the future of projection?
LANDAU: I think it’s a great way to go. I don’t think we have to choose 48 or 60. I think filmmakers should be able to choose. The technology is there. The projectors can play either one. I think filmmakers need to drive this. We’ll get rid of strobing, we’ll have brighter light levels, and we’ll see it evolve, down the road. But, I think it’s an evolutionary step, not a revolutionary step. So, I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight, but I think it’s something that will happen over time.
What are your thoughts on Warner Bros. seeming to have pulled back a bit from 48fps on The Hobbit, after the reaction from critics wasn’t as enthusiastic as they would have liked it to be?
LANDAU: I think that’s a misconception. I think what they are doing is managing expectations. If they come out there and say, “Hey, it’s at high frame rates,” but the theater in Des Moines, Iowa doesn’t have higher frame rates, people will say, “Wait, they promised it to me.” I think what they’re saying is, “Look, in this first initial pass, it’s going to be in selected theaters.” It can’t be everywhere, so I think they’re handling it very smartly.
The release dates for the second and third Avatar movies seem to be in flux a bit. Do you have a current status for the release dates and how far along those scripts are now?
LANDAU: The scripts are pretty far along. We have a team of people already working on the film at Manhattan Beach Studios. We’ve been working with WETA Digital on technologies. You know, Titanic was supposed to be a summer movie and it was a Christmas movie. We’re going to make the best possible version of these movies, and they will come out when they are exactly that.
What recent advances in technology are you looking forward to incorporating into future movies?
LANDAU: I think a greater fidelity of facial performance capture is something that’s very exciting, and I think that being able to create worlds, like we did with Avatar, at even higher fidelity to really immerse the audience more in the narrative storytelling. Those are great goals, as we move forward.
Do the new technologies only make things easier, or do they also provide their own challenges?
LANDAU: With us, we tend to be pioneers, breaking new ground. When you’re going on a path that has never been traveled before, you’re the one who’s making the missteps. If you’re not making those missteps, you know you’re not breaking new ground. But, we find that very exciting and very challenging. To me, you can learn as much from your missteps as you do from your successes. Thanks to the team of people around us, we always find ways to overcome those missteps and use them to our advantage.
James Cameron has clearly stated that he sees 3D as the future of home entertainment. Do you feel the same way about it?
LANDAU: We see our lives in 3D, so it’s only natural. Whether you’re on a Mac platform or a Windows platform, it’s the poor man’s version of 3D, with layer on top of layer on top of layer, so it’s only natural that our home entertainment goes to 3D, too. We need to get to a point where we have enough content to drive people to buy the players. Hopefully, with Avatar, Titanic, Hugo, Ice Age and others, they’re beginning to see enough product out there to go out and get the 3D TVs.
What’s been the best and most rewarding part of your years of collaboration with James Cameron?
LANDAU: I think the opportunities that it has opened, that have been unique opportunities. The opportunities that I’ve had to go visit our troops in the Persian Gulf, to fly onto a nuclear aircraft carrier and meet all of the people on board, the ability to go down to the Amazon and talk about indigenous rights are opportunities that would not be available, but for these movies that Jim has envisioned and created.
Titanic 3D hits Blu-ray September 10.