Jon Landau Titanic 3D Interview

Jon Landau Titanic 3D Interview

Jon Landau Titanic 3D Interview

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bill Paxton
Director: James Cameron
Genre: Adventure, Drama, History
Rated: M
Running Time: 194 minutes

Synopsis: A boy and girl from differing social backgrounds meet during the ill-fated maiden voyage of RMS Titanic.

Release Date: April 5th, 2012

Interview with Jon Landau

Question: Where did the initial idea to make Titanic in 3D come from?

Jon Landau: The initial kernel was through conversation. We began working with 3D in early 2000 and we said "if we had a chance to make Titanic in 3D, we would have" but the technology did not exist. Then suddenly as 3D was becoming more and more popular companies started with a conversion process; we started testing companies by giving them five different scenes that made up one minute of total time. We tested 13-15 different companies and had them convert those sequences and then we picked the company that we felt most comfortable with and we elected to go with them to do the conversion of Titanic to 3D.

Question: What are some of the limitations of enhancing a film that was shot in 2D into 3D?

Jon Landau: First of all it's a simulation of 3D because we didn't shoot it in native 3D and that is why it takes so long to do the conversion, properly. To try and do a conversion when you're finishing a movie and want to release the 3D and the 2D on the same day - you just can't do justice to it. The director has to be involved in the 3D process, it's not a technical process it's a creative process as there are creative choices.

We don't view 3D as gags coming off the screen, 3D is about creating a window into the world and hopefully when people go to the cinemas the screen disappears and it truly feels like a window.

Question: Were you surprised at how well the movie came up in 3D?

Jon Landau: I am surprised what I don't remember from the first release of the film and it is more about the performances, for me; such as the scene with Katy Bates' in the lifeboat and the drama that plays out there including Ruth Dewitt Bukater (Frances Fisher), Kate's mother, covering her ears - those were things that subtly went by for me before and now I notice those performances more. When the mother is putting on the corset, I almost feel as if the corset is cinching around me when I watch that scene - that is what I think 3D does, it takes those scenes and amps them up!

Question: The detail in elderly Rose's (Gloria Stuart) face, is superb.

Jon Landau: I remember Gloria Stuart's performance as being good and when I was watching the film, recently, in 3D I thought "she was great, she wasn't good, she was really great"! Gloria Stuart remained a friend of ours until she passed away about a year ago. We all went to the Santa Monica pier which was talked about in the film, Jack and Rose talk about riding horses by the pier and the beach and that is where we had the memorial service with her family and a very small group. Her ashes were spread on the ocean, which was very touching.

Question: Have any of the actors, from Titanic, seen the 3D enhancement?

Jon Landau: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have seen a portion of the enhancement. I flew down to Sydney in December 2011 as Jim (James Cameron) and Leonardo DiCaprio were already there and we screened Titanic 3D for Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio). It was interesting because Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio) is normally a quiet person but he was audible when watching the footage, the first thing he said was "I don't look like that anymore" (laughing)! He could not get over how he looked in the movie, if you think about it he doesn't go home and watch Titanic, What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Romeo and Juliet - those things are in the past for him and he is always living, rightfully so, in the present and after he got over the way he looked, I think he had the reaction that I hope all audiences will have and that was that it was as if he was watching the movie, for the first time, all over again.

Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio) was saying that he "didn't remember the set being that big" and that he didn't remember this and he didn't remember that it was great!

Kate had the same reaction about how she looked and then she began talking about her kids and her being able to take her kids to finally see this film and that was nice.

I think that going to the movies is a shared event for most people and Titanic is a movie that people want to share; they want to share it with their peers, the next generation and the previous generation. When the time comes to go to the movies and people are torn in different directions, Titanic is a movie that somehow finds a consensus for people to go and see.

Question: Was there a temptation to add additional scenes to the 3D version of Titanic?

Jon Landau: There was a temptation at the very beginning and then we said "the movie worked the first time" if we start putting in scenes or upgrading digital effects we're creating a 'Where's Waldo' effect where audiences would go to the theatre and sit there saying "did that change" or "was that different" and I don't want that, we want people to go and sit in their seats and get lost in the movie.

Why do people go to entertainment, today? For escapism! Which is why they shouldn't be thinking, they should just be experiencing.

Question: In terms of the actual process did you lose heart; a usual film conversation is six weeks and this was sixty weeks?

Jon Landau: We knew how long it was going to take, we paced ourselves accordingly. Avatar only took four and a half years - so this was easy (laughing) this was sixty weeks, that's the pre-production on Avatar!

We started working on the 4K Master and it was great to see the stars in the sky that you couldn't see in the release prints of the film - they were there but the technology didn't exist to show them. It was nice for us, when going through it as we were reliving the moments from when we made the movie and we were remembering them without the pressure of the production itself. We were remembering the scenes in retrospective and the thousands of people who contributed to what the result was of Titanic, what you see on the screen is not what Jim (James Cameron) did, it was not what I did - it was all these people contributing to what you see on the screen. For us, this is a celebration of what they did and I am looking forward to going back to the States for the cast and crew screening of Titanic 3D to share the film, again, with them.

Question: Paramount was your partner in 1997 for the release of Titanic in the restoration of the film did Paramount play a part?

Jon Landau: Paramount has the distribution deal for the US market. Jim (James Cameron) and I had the vision and we have been working with FOX, who have become our life long partners. Even though Jim (James Cameron) and my careers only came together 18 years ago, together we have been at FOX for 23 years. FOX rightfully asked us to wait on the conversion until we were done with all of Avatar including the Home Entertainment release. FOX was very on board with the process and together we went to Paramount to get them on board for the US distribution.

Question: What is planned in terms of the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic?

Jon Landau: We are doing a couple of different things for the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic. We have bought together a group of Titanic experts from a wide range of areas including the US Naval Academy, the RMS Titanic who originally salvaged the ship, Ken Marschall who is an artist who wrote a great book about Titanic and we are doing a roundtable documentary that will air on National Demographic called The Final Word. The documentary is about what happened from the moment Titanic hit the iceberg to where it lies today, it is a forensic analysis of what happened and why those events lead to tragedy, the way they did. It is fascinating because we know a lot more today than we ever knew before.

James Cameron has gone back to Titanic, twice, since we've made the movie and done subsequent dives. In actuality with him sitting on the submersed deck, he has spent more time on the Titanic than Captain Smith did.

We are also reaching out to various Titanic organisations around the world and we are providing them with access to screenings, promotional works and we are also trying to bring to light some of the untold stories of the survivors and how they went on after Titanic. We are trying to pay tribute and honour to those who survived and passed away.

Question: What are your thoughts on shooting in 3D (Avatar) as opposed to going back and converting the film?

Jon Landau: If you are shooting something anew and you wanted it in colour, you wouldn't shoot it in black and white; so if you want it in 3D today, don't shoot it in 2D and convert it - that makes NO sense because it takes you longer, it costs you more money and you have less creative flexibility - it's dumb!

If there are library titles that you crave, as a filmmaker, to want to see on the big screen in 3D and you as a filmmaker can be involved in that process, that's very exciting! I'd love Steven Spielberg to go back and convert some of his movies to 3D. I'd love Peter Jackson to go back and convert The Lord of the Rings - as long as the filmmaker is involved and they take the time, to do it right.

Depth costs time and money and you have to be prepared for that when going into a conversion process.

Question: Will 2K or 4K be released in cinemas?

Jon Landau: 2K will be released in cinemas and the 4K release will be limited to IMAX. IMAX Melbourne and IMAX Darling Harbour will be showing the 70mm film prints and they look phenomenal.
When we play, on film at IMAX we will have an intermission because that is the limitation of IMAX. We believed it was still worth it to afford the audience who wants to seek out that experience, the ability to do so.

I was asked today if I believed Titanic was an old fashioned movie and I said yes! Titanic is old fashioned in its storytelling and old fashioned in its production techniques. When you are watching Titanic you know that those set are real and that the water was rushing people around in different directions. You know that Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were walking on the deck of a ship and there really was a sunset out there - movies aren't made that way, anymore. Digital affects are different for the actor, different for the filmmakers and different for the audience.

Question: What was it like to come on stage during the 1997 Academy Awards for Titanic?

Jon Landau: The Academy Awards were a surreal experience for me. I had been to the Oscars before and my tickets were always for the back row of the balcony and when I got my tickets for the Academy Awards I was in the third row centre and that was pretty cool and not only that, they were kind enough to give me four tickets and I was able to take my wife, my mother and my son and share that moment with them. Someone up above in the rafters took a picture of the four of us the moment that they announced Titanic had won and that is my favourite picture. On the night when I was sitting there and they began to announce the other movies I was thinking 'wow they applauded a lot for that film' and 'they applauded even more for that one'. The moment they announced Titanic it was really the first time in three plus years where the pressure of making this movie was finally off because we'd had the pressure throughout the production, the pressure throughout the release (it wasn't just about opening but how we played in the fifth, sixth and seven week) and then we had to worry about the Golden Globes and the MTV Movie Awards (yes, that's right we won the MTV Movie Awards and the Nickelodeon Kids Awards). The awards speaks for the breathe of the movie, it's something we can't lose sight of in the rerelease of this movie as it spans all of the ages from young to old.

I was told a very funny story by someone the other day; a young girl was doing something and then turned around and said "I'm king of the world" and her father asked "Do you even know where that is from?" and she replied "Yes Daddy, it's from Titanic" and he asked "Have you seen the movie" and she responded "No, but I will this April" (laughing).

Going back to the awards... I believe my job as a producer is to watch out for James Cameron, the director, and protect him. Every now and then you have to protect yourself and Sean Connery presented us with the award for Titanic and when we went backstage for photo opportunities Sean Connery was on my right and James Cameron was on my left and I finally had to protect myself; I leant over to Jim (James Cameron) and I said "I'm standing in the middle, or I'll get cut out of all the photographs".

Question: When will Titanic 3D hit the big screen?

Jon Landau: Titanic 3D will be out on April 5th, 2012 and thanks to Twentieth Century Fox and their support we are really approaching this as a if it is a new release with a premier in London. James Cameron and myself will also be travelling around the world to support the film. This to us is a new release. There is a line in the movie that Bill Paxton's character Brock Lovett says to Gloria Stuart and I will leave you with that, "Are you ready to go back to Titanic?"