James Cameron may have shot to mainstream attention by directing low budget sci-fi thriller The Terminator before following it up with one of the greatest action movies in history thanks to Aliens, but since completing work on The Abyss over 30 years ago, he’s been hellbent on crafting some of the most expensive, boundary-pushing, game-changing and commercially successful projects ever made.
After kicking the doors down on the CGI revolution with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was the first $100 million production in Hollywood history, Cameron followed it up by once again helming the costliest film of all-time when True Lies set the studio back $120 million. Not content to stop there, the director then doubled down as Titanic became cinema’s maiden $200 million epic, with expenses spiralling so far out of control that many analysts were predicting that the historical drama could ironically sink his entire career.
Obviously that wasn’t the case, and the film went on to become a cultural phenomenon, one that easily smashed almost every conceivable box office record on its way to becoming the highest-grossing movie ever by a massive distance, with the theatrical run’s $1.8 billion haul over double that of previous record holder Jurassic Park. Not to mention it turned Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into major stars.
It proved just as popular fifteen years later when it was re-released to mark the 100th anniversary of the titular disaster, earning over $200 million to join Cameron’s Avatar in the $2 billion club. And even though almost everyone has seen Titanic at least once at this point in their lives, it’s continuing to be a big hit with viewers and is currently the sixth most-watched title on Hulu, which is an impressive achievement for a 195-minute film that takes a lot of dedication to get through in one uninterrupted sitting.