James Cameron trimmed Titanic budget by hiring “short people”

James Cameron hired “short extras” so it would make the sets on Titanic appear larger, thus saving money in set design.

Cameron Titanic

When it came to bringing the story of the doomed liner the RMS Titanic to the big screen, James Cameron would face some of the greatest challenges of his career. And while we would soon enough know it as one of the biggest box office behemoths to ever take over pop culture, the director had to pull off every trick he could to get it there. For this, he spared no expense — except if it would benefit the movie. 

As he recently revealed while promoting the 4K Blu-ray release of Titanic, James Cameron said he used some visual trickery to not only save a few bucks but also give the illusion that his sets were far larger than they were. “We only cast short extras so it made our set look bigger…Anybody above 5’8”, we didn’t cast them. It’s like we got an extra million dollars of value out of casting.” It’s not something we ever think about, but yeah, taller people are kind of a pricey commodity in the biz!

James Cameron and company also saved some dough — $750,000, to be exact — on Titanic by nixing an entire set that would have played into the sinking of the ship. Cameron also noted that if they had their way, Paramount would have scrapped the entire sinking of the RMS Titanic, which would have certainly robbed us of arguing over whether or not there was room for Jack on the door…Cameron got around certain troubles with the sinking by shooting the thrilling sequence last. “It wasn’t because of strategy — it was simply because you sink the set last because otherwise it doesn’t look so good the next morning when you bring it back up.”

Titanic was the first out of the gate for a number of James Cameron films coming to 4K. While it probably should have come out last year to truly coincide with the movie’s 25th anniversary, we’re glad it’s here as it’s truly deserving of the format. But we still have a bit of a wait for The Abyss, Aliens and True Lies, which will arrive on March 12th.

Where does Titanic rest in the legacy of James Cameron? Where does it rank in your favorite Cameron movies? Let us know below!

Source: Los Angeles Times

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.