In the lead-up to the rerelease of “Titanic,” there was a distinct possibility that it might be able to stay ahead of “Avatar: The Way of Water” in the all-time rankings. The movie was first converted to 3D for the 2012 rerelease, which actually benefited from the 3D hype created by “Avatar” a few years earlier. The 3D release of “Titanic” was an astonishing success, adding $350 million to its worldwide lifetime gross.
The receipts for the 25th anniversary rerelease are not to be sniffed at. Just over a week after it returned to theaters, it has already expanded its gross by $48 million worldwide. It’s particularly benefiting from the emphasis on premium formats; since 3D and IMAX movie tickets are more expensive, studios can make more money from a smaller number of ticket sales. However, there’s a downside this for cinephiles (myself included) who feel that 3D and HFR conversions for “Titanic” are gilding the lily, and would prefer to see the movie the same way it appeared on big screens back in 1997. Though in theory the rerelease included both 2D and 3D prints, the reality is that it’s pretty difficult to find 2D showings.
It’s hard to say how much the lack of 2D availability has impacted the box office for “Titanic” in this latest rerelease. However, it should be noted that even in the case of “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which was marketed as the ultimate 3D IMAX experience, 38% of ticket sales on opening weekend were for standard 2D showings (per Deadline). Perhaps I’m not alone in being old-fashioned.