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Long-delayed "Titanic' will open in Tokyo

Film studio Twentieth Century Fox is planning a Titanic world debut for the latest film chronicling the ill-fated maiden voyage of the supposedly unsinkable passenger ship.

The film has achieved a number of firsts even before it sets sail.

It carries the dubious honor of being the most expensive movie ever produced, at a rumored $200-million, and is one of the first Hollywood epics to have its debut in Japan, seldom considered a center of western film culture.

Fox officials say the decision to debut the movie here today, as part of the Tokyo Film Festival, demonstrates the importance of the Japanese market.

Industry cynics suggest it will help avoid a savaging by the critics since Japanese reviewers are usually somewhat discreet in their comments, and therefore keep the film from suffering the same fate as the 1912 liner. The movie is scheduled to open in the United States on Dec. 17. ("Titanic: The Exhibition" opens Nov. 15 at the Florida International Museum).

With the conclusion of the story known to everyone, the main cliffhanger was whether the film would be ready. It has already faced long delays, having originally been scheduled for release in the summer. With the delays have come ballooning costs.

Earlier last month, senior executives at News Corp, parent company of Fox, admitted that the film was over budget.

The world premiere in Tokyo fits the usual bill for a gala opening. In addition to star Leonardo DiCaprio, director James Cameron, producer Jon Landau and executive producer Rae Sanchini were all due in Tokyo for the event.

Seats for the public at the 3,000-seat theatre sold out within an hour and organizers said show business professionals from around the world were madly trying to get tickets to the first showing.