James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster, Titanic, was filmed in multiple locations including the actual wreck of the Titanic and a huge set that took an entire crew over 100 days to build, which was located at Rosarito Beach.
Like the cast of characters aside from the main protagonists, Cameron wanted the set for the movie to be as historically accurate as possible. The film garnered 14 Academy Award nominations and 11 wins, tying with William Wyler’s Ben-Hur for the top Oscar Winner of all-time.
Filming locations for the movie include the wreck of the real-life Titanic, which is used in the beginning of the film and a fully-functioning studio at Rosarito Beach on the Mexican coast of Baja California. The set is now known as Baja Film Studios.
The Set Was Constructed in 100 Days
The huge set for the movie took 100 days to construct and was later turned into Baja Film Studios, one of the world’s largest stages and filming tanks. Other productions that have been filmed there include Tomorrow Never Dies, Deep Blue Sea, Pearl Harbor and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
The actual wreck of the Titanic is located on the floor of the North Atlantic about 370 miles southeast of the coast of Newfoundland. It took 12 dives to the hulk of the ship. On the last two dives, the remotely operated camera went deeper into the hull of the ship than on any other previous dive.
Cameron was the first to creep inside the wreck, which is located around 13,000 feet below sea level. The opening sequence uses photos and videos from the dives but is filled out with miniatures and a submerged set that duplicated the debris.
The Film’s Engine Room is the Engine Room of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien
The engine room used in the film was the Triple Expansion Engine of the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, which is currently located at Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is one of two remaining fully functional Liberty ships launched during World War II and has the distinction of being the last unaltered Liberty ship, remaining historically accurate.
The ship is a living museum on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. The O’Brien is usually open daily for dockside tours, though it is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ending Scenes Were Filmed At the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool
The scenes for the end of the movie were filmed in the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, which was located in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles. The venue opened in 1968 but was declared seismically unsafe in 2014 and has since been demolished.
Other water scenes were filmed in the custom tank that now lies at Baja Film Studios. The water in the tank was about 80 degrees, and the cold, frigid breath was added later. There are rumors that Cameron refused to let anyone leave the pool during filming, though the director has said that is not true.
“Everyone could go to the toilet, but they were encouraged not to go in the tank, which I think was happening,” Cameron said when asked about the rumor.
According to People, Leonardo DiCaprio was a certified SCUBA diver during filming, which helped out with the scenes near the end.
“When we did the underwater footage at the end, Leo was a certified scuba diver at that point and I was not,” Kate Winslet said. “He really did look after me. He was totally brilliant – he wouldn’t leave my side.”