TOKYO — The megabudget and much-delayed movie “Titanic” premiered Saturday night at the Tokyo Intl. Film Festival, with hundreds of young Japanese women screeching for the film’s star, Leonardo DiCaprio, to flash a smile and a serious James Cameron telling the capacity crowd of about 2,200 the historical meaning of the nautical disaster.
The Japanese fans were receptive and on cue. They applauded loudly when the film began and ended, cried during the weepy scenes and remained quiet in their seats for the three hours and 14 minutes of its running time.
But best of all for the assorted Hollywood high rollers who made the trip out to Tokyo to see the first public showing of the $200 million-plus movie, Japanese movie critics said “Titanic” should be a big hit.
“I expect this movie to do extremely well in Japan,” said a movie reporter for Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper.
“Titanic” helmsman Cameron brought a more somber note to the premiere festivities as he dedicated the film to the 1,500 people who died when the ship went down in April 1912.
“The Titanic is the quintessential disaster of the 20th century. It is a potent reminder to me today of the consequences of human arrogance and putting a blind faith in technology,” Cameron said before the screening.
Most of the fans who came to “Titanic” were not there to see Cameron, producer John Landau or executive producer Rae Sanchini. They were there for DiCaprio.
Japanese girls, some in their school uniforms, and young women belted out cries of “Leo,” “Romeo” and “You are so gorgeous” whenever DiCaprio spoke.
The young actor said making the film was the most remarkable experience of his life. “It made a man out of me,” he said to his doting fans.
“It was such a sad movie, but I was deeply impressed,” said Katsue Hirosawa, 27, who had come to see DiCaprio, her favorite film star.
The Tokyo premiere is seven weeks before “Titanic’s” Dec. 19 U.S. debut. The Japanese release is scheduled for Dec. 20.
Earlier in the day, the Tokyo festival opened with a screening of “Air Force One.” Harrison Ford and Wolfgang Petersen were on hand for the show.
Ford came to the first Tokyo Intl. Film Festival, when “Witness” was screened at the event.
The festival continues through Nov. 10, when “Seven Years in Tibet” closes the event.