What Was It Like Seeing Titanic in the Theaters in 1997?

Picture it, one of the biggest events in cinema history, and I was a part of it seven times in theaters. I’ve never seen a film more than two times, with its exception. There were so many magnificent things about the experience of seeing Titanic in theaters. I recently encountered an online thread discussing people’s experiences watching the film in theaters. Here are their stories and mine.

The Theaters Had Lines Out the Doors and Packed Seating

A die-hard Titanic fan admits, “The release of Titanic and a summer of two-dollar matinee showings made it so that I saw it 32 times. We would then go to the playground and play like we were the characters in the movie. I still know that movie word for word.”

All seven showings I attended had lines getting in and filled seats. Admittedly, watching the scene where Jack drew Rose was awkward with my father, but I said nothing.

However, he later took my grandma (his mother) and confessed it was pretty awkward. Everyone I knew was seeing the film more than once. Of course, I was a teenage girl, and it had all the drama and tragedy to accompany that whole mood. It’s still one of my favorite films ever made.

The Historical Accuracy

After watching an eight-hour VHS documentary on Titanic from A&E, I was blown away by the historical accuracy of every detail surrounding Jack and Rose. Details such as making sure the silverware said “White Star Line” and recreating scenes found in pictures, like the father and little boy with the spinning top on deck.

Many people express they were obsessed with Titanic before the film came out and still are today. These are my people. They are also impressed with the attention to detail James Cameron made.

It Is Meant to Be Seen on the Big Screen

There are only a handful of movies I’ve ever felt were mandatory big-screen viewings, and Titanic is one of them. The sheer size of the ship is impressive on the screen. One of the more breathtaking scenes is when the ship has sunk, and the camera pans out on the thousands of people flailing about in the water. It still gets me, but the big screen emphasizes the terror.

There Were Mixed Sounds Coming From the Crowd

Without a doubt, the majority of the theater had tears in their throats, while some were full-on sobbing (Hi). “I will never let go, Jack,” became the iconic line associated with what many call “Emotional damage” they experienced from the film.

People were gasping at many scenes. However, you could feel the energy of the silence throughout most of the sinking. I swear I could hear other people’s heartbeats racing with mine.

Also, the scene when the man jumps and pings off of the propeller caused several people to laugh in a couple of the showings I attended, and many others in the forum concur with having that experience.

People Were Obsessed

Yes, they were, and I was one of them. I still am. Another forum member admits something that sums up my high school experience with the film: “I freaked out and became obsessed, and my sister and I made our parents take us to see it multiple times. All the boys in school were jealous of Leonardo DiCaprio. All the girls were obsessed with him. And much time was spent discussing the logistics of a certain wardrobe door.”

The Song Was Everywhere

You could not escape Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” and I was perfectly ok with it. Moreover, the Titanic and Back to Titanic musical scores are beautiful and still something I enjoy occasionally.

Celine’s ballad was the only song in the film that had words. It was a great time to be alive, and if you ever have an opportunity to view it in a theater that shows older movies, I strongly urge you to see it. 

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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.