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Thursday, December 18, 1997 Published at 17:22 GMT


Titanic cost of making movies
image: [ Stunning special effects and lavish sets. ]
Stunning special effects and lavish sets.

The Titanic - the most expensive film ever made - is hitting American cinemas amid controversy over its cost.

The film tells the tale of a love story aboard the luxury liner when it sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, killing more than 1,600 people.

Advance reports about Titanic, which opens in the UK next year, describe its stunning special effects and lavish sets.

[ image: The ship's ballroom was painstakingly recreated]
The ship's ballroom was painstakingly recreated
With expenditure of around $200m (120m), even industry insiders say cost was obscene.

Kenneth Turan, film critic for the LA Times, said: "You could solve a lot of the world's problems with that much money.

"There is something insane about that. In fact, people are wondering if that would put off members of the Academy."

But the enormous expense has attracted extensive publicity.

Much of the money went on building a full-scale exterior of the Titanic - the largest set in film history.

Throughout production in Mexico, the ship sat in a 17-million-gallon tank of water. Interiors were painstakingly recreated from plans drawn up by the original builders.

A series of disasters sent costs soaring. Dozens of film crew members fell ill with food poisoning over the eight-month period shoot.

Stephen Galloway, an independent film-maker said: "Once a film gets underway, you have two choices - and it's very very hard to pull the plug."

Eleanor Schuman, now in her 80s, was one of the 752 passengers who survived when the Titanic hit the iceberg. She was aged 16 months at the time.

Mrs Schuman, who has seen the film at special screenings, said: "I kept saying to myself, 'I was there', but it is hard to pin it to those things mum told me about. I've seen it twice and I thought it was wonderful."

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