‘Titanic’ clicks in Tokyo

TOKYO — A much relieved James Cameron said Monday he was happy with the warm reception his megabudget movie “Titanic” got at its world premiere Saturday in Tokyo.

“I had an instinct that the Japanese audience would embrace a serious subject that had a strong emotional component to it, and from what I can tell so far from the initial reaction, it looks like we were right,” Cameron said at a news conference.

About 2,200 people, mostly screeching fans of “Titanic” star Leonardo DiCaprio, went to see the premiere during its screening at the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival.

The Tokyo launch went off without a snag, and the film seems certain to do well at the box office in Japan, potentially the most lucrative overseas market for the $200 million-plus movie.

Cameron said high expectations and bad luck pushed up production costs and pushed back the release date for the disaster epic. The director defended the huge chunk of change that was spent on the movie.

“What you will lose as a result of a film like ‘Titanic’ is maybe three Steven Segal films,” Cameron said.

The movie will premiere next in London on Nov. 18 and Cameron said he will leave it up to audiences to decide if the production cost for “Titanic” was money well spent.

Producer Jon Landau said he was thrilled with the reception the film received in Tokyo. He said the production costs went directly into making the film and were not diverted into $20 million contracts for top-line talent.

Landau, who will travel with Cameron to London, said the movie’s high budget was a boon for economies in places such as Baja, Mexico, and Halifax, Canada, where filming took place.

DiCaprio hinted at the press conference that Cameron may be looking toward smaller projects in the future. The actor said he discussed some upcoming film projects with the director.

“We talked about it, and he had the idea of doing a smaller film,” DiCaprio said, adding any film would be small in comparison with “Titanic.”

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