US, UK Sign Deal To Protect Titanic Wreck

 

Britain on Tuesday hailed a new treaty with the United States that seeks to protect the wreck of the Titanic from damage by explorers and tourists.

The remains of the ship lie largely intact 2.5 miles (four kilometres) below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean after it hit an iceberg in 1912.

But there have been growing concerns about visitors taking artefacts, leaving rubbish and even placing plaques in memory of the 1,500 people who died.

An international treaty to limit access was signed by Britain in 2003 but only ratified by the United States in November last year.

During a visit to Belfast in Northern Ireland, where the Titanic was built, British maritime minister Nusrat Ghani said it was a “momentous agreement”.

It meant the site “will be treated with the sensitivity and respect owed to the final resting place of more than 1,500 lives”, she said, according to a government statement.

“The UK will now work closely with the other North Atlantic States to bring even more protection to the wreck of the Titanic.”

Built by Harland and Wolff, the Titanic was the largest and most luxurious passenger vessel of its time and described as “unsinkable”.

It set sail on its maiden voyage from the English port of Southampton on April 10, 1912, bound for New York but it never arrived.

The ship, carrying around 2,224 passengers, hit an iceberg on April 15, broke apart and sank to the bottom of the ocean.

The wreck was discovered in September 1985 about 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, in Canada.

Several countries have been negotiating an international deal to protect it since then, while it is also protected by UNESCO.

Britain and the US have now both passed legislation giving them the power to grant or deny licences authorising people to enter the hull sections of the Titanic and remove artefacts, UK officials said.

AFP

‘Avengers’ Blast Past ‘Titanic’ To All-Time Number Two

 

Disney and Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” has stormed into a historic territory, earning $2.19 billion worldwide in less than two weeks to become the No. 2 film of all time, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

That exalted number, which includes the film’s estimated take of $145.8 million this three-day weekend in North America, pushes the superhero blockbuster past “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which netted $2.07 billion, and even “Titanic” ($2.18 billion).

Only “Avatar” ($2.79 billion) has done better. Yet “Avengers” hit its record total in just 11 days, taking in a stunning $575.8 million in China alone.

Hollywood analysts predict a long run for “Avengers,” which drew a rare 96 per cent rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website and features a star-studded cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper and Josh Brolin.

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Trailing “Avengers” by several light years, rival studios still managed to place new films in the next three box-office spots.

Sony’s psychological thriller “The Intruder” came in second, at $11 million. Michael Ealy and Meagan Good star as a young couple who buy a dream home in California’s Napa Valley unaware that its previous owner (Dennis Quaid) plans to take it back — at all costs.

In third was Lionsgate’s romantic comedy “Long Shot,” at $10 million. Seth Rogen plays Fred Flarsky, an out-of-work journalist who has a romantic interest in his former babysitter (Charlize Theron) who — now a candidate for the US presidency — might seem a bit out of his reach.

STX Films’ animated film “UglyDolls” placed fourth, at $8.5 million. The plot? A bunch of misfit dolls with pointy ears and bad teeth — residents of Uglyville — face a harsh world but finally discover their inner beauty. The voices of Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Wanda Sykes and Janelle Monae are featured.

In fifth place, hanging strong in its ninth week out, was Disney’s “Captain Marvel,” at $4.3 million. Brie Larson stars as a former fighter pilot who gains superpowers.

Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were:

“Breakthrough” ($3.9 million)

“The Curse of La Llorona” ($3.5 million)

“Shazam!” ($2.5 million)

“Little” ($1.5 million)

“Dumbo” ($1.4 million)

AFP

‘Black Panther’ Pounces Past ‘Titanic’ Box Office Record

Lagos screening of the Black Panther.

 

“Black Panther” broke more records over the weekend in North America, exceeding revenues from the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic,” while horror thriller “A Quiet Place,” with barely three minutes of dialogue, made a resounding $50.2 million debut. 

“A Quiet Place” is built around a simple but chilling premise: flesh-eating creatures have invaded Earth, but they are blind and can track their prey only by sound.

So actor/director John Krasinski, his wife (in the film and in real life) Emily Blunt and their children must adapt — through sign language and ingenious adaptations — or die.

The film has drawn rave reviews, with a 97 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” — a futuristic tribute to 1980s films — came in second at $24.6 million from Friday to Sunday, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The Warner Bros. film tells the story of a teenage gamer (Wade Watts) who finds himself inside an addictive virtual reality world. It’s earned $96.5 million in two weeks.

In third was another new release, Universal’s “Blockers,” at $20.6 million. A raunchy comedy starring John Cena and Leslie Mann, the movie drew considerable buzz at the South by Southwest film festival.

Still flourishing in its eighth week out, “Black Panther” netted $8.7 million for the fourth spot.

Already the highest-grossing superhero film in US history, its cumulative total in the US and Canada now exceeds $665.6 million. The film stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong’o.

That number takes the film past “Titanic,” which had collected $659 million in North America. “Black Panther” is now third in movie ticket sales of all time on the continent.

“Avatar” (2009) and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015) are still ahead, with $760 million and $936.7 million in ticket sales respectively.

In terms of global sales, “Avatar” leads with $2.8 billion, followed by “Titanic” ($2.2 billion), both directed by James Cameron. “Black Panther” is only 10th worldwide.

In North America, the weekend’s fifth spot went to psychological thriller “Tyler Perry’s Acrimony” with $8.4 million.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

“I Can Only Imagine” ($7.8 million)

“Chappaquiddick” ($5.8 million)

“Sherlock Gnomes” ($5.4 million)

“Pacific Rim: Uprising” ($4.8 million)

“Isle of Dogs” ($4.6 million)

AFP

‘Titanic’ Keeps That Sinking Feeling Alive, 20 Years On

Part saturnine elegy to doomed youth, part exaltation of the transcendent power of love, blockbuster disaster movie “Titanic” is delivering that sinking feeling to a whole new generation of fans.

Tuesday marks two decades since Rose vowed to Jack she’d “never let go” — before spectacularly reneging on her promise, sending her frozen-to-death paramour to a watery grave and leaving “Titaniacs” worldwide sobbing into their popcorn.

The anniversary has been celebrated with screenings across the United States, and audiences are still swooning over the young lovers played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet — now both Oscar winners and Hollywood A-listers.

“The Titanic story itself has a timeless quality. It seems to exist outside our daily lives. As this straight moral lesson, it’s something that fascinates us,” director James Cameron told fans at a Los Angeles screening to mark the milestone.

Winslet’s love-struck socialite and DiCaprio’s artistic drifter were fictionalized characters in a dramatization of the real-life sinking in 1912 of history’s most famous ship after it hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic.

The film, distributed by Paramount at home and Fox abroad, entered into movie history when it picked up 11 Oscars, including best picture and best director for Cameron.

With a worldwide gross of $2.2 billion, it was the most successful movie ever made until Cameron’s “Avatar” (2009) took $2.8 billion at the box office.

At an intimidating 195 minutes, the movie can feel in parts as long as the voyage on which it is based, but it earned mostly glowing reviews, and the theme song “My Heart Will Go On” became a global success for Celine Dion.

– Five-word pitch –

Cameron, 63, says he sold the idea to Fox executives with “probably the shortest pitch for a major movie in Hollywood history.”

“I whipped open this book and in the center is a beautiful double-truck spread right across both pages of a painting by Ken Marschall, the best artist of the subject of the Titanic,” he recalled.

“It was a beautiful shot of the rocket going off and lighting up the ship, and lifeboats rowing away as it went down in the more sedate, quiet part of the sinking. I said, ‘Romeo and Juliet on that.’ Five words.”

DiCaprio and Winslet — then 21 and 20, respectively — began filming in September 1996, their first scene together the moment in which the actress appears nude for him to paint.

Any awkwardness was short-lived and the pair quickly became close friends, reuniting onscreen a decade later for Sam Mendes’s fraught love story “Revolutionary Road.”

“They really bonded and they were there for each other through a long, difficult, grueling shoot. They were there to support each other,” Cameron said.

– Bloated production –

The epic proportions of the $200 million production, with its 1,000 extras and crew of more than 800, can hardly be overstated.

Cameron had a full scale model of the ill-fated luxury liner constructed on 40 acres of Mexican waterfront bought by Fox, after receiving the blueprints from the original ship builder.

The rooms were meticulously recreated from old photographs, as was RMS Titanic’s first class staircase, mahogany woodwork and gold-plated light fixtures, all of which was destroyed in the sinking scene.

Such was the perceived folly of the bloated production — then the costliest ever — that Variety began a daily “Titanic Watch” column, ridiculing what was expected to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history.

A despondent Cameron kept a razor blade taped to the screen of his video editing equipment with an inscription written in pen: “Use in case film sucks.”

– ‘Rules of gravity didn’t apply’ –

The movie test-screened to rapturous applause in Minneapolis, however, and Cameron was reassured that he’d actually made a decent movie.

It opened with a domestic haul of $28.6 million and was expected to follow the normal pattern for blockbusters, dropping by 40-50 percent in its second weekend.

Instead, it made another $28 million, and $32 million on the third weekend, eventually securing the top spot for 15 consecutive weeks.

“It just went down by like two percent a week and everybody just felt like we were in this alternate universe where the rules of gravity didn’t apply,” said Cameron.

Experts theorized that the numbers were being boosted by groups of young teenage girls watching multiple times, but Cameron believes “Titanic” did so well because the love story appealed across generations.

“With all due respect to Kate and Leo, and they’re both good friends of mine, it’s not Kate and Leo anymore — it’s Jack and Rose,” said Cameron.

“And it will always be Jack and Rose. I guess that’s what I’m proudest of, that we’ve created something that has its own reality, that’s outside of time, and theoretically that could still be enjoyed indefinitely.”

AFP

Violin That Played As Titanic Sank Sells For $1.5 million

A violin that was being played as the Titanic went down was sold for 900,000 pounds ($1.46 million) at auction on Saturday, a record price for memorabilia from the doomed ocean liner.

Band leader Wallace Hartley played the instrument, trying to calm passengers as the ship slipped into the frozen waters of the North Atlantic in April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

Hartley’s band played the hymn “Nearer, My God, To Thee” as passengers climbed into lifeboats. Hartley and his seven fellow band members all died after choosing to play on. More than 1,500 people died.

When Hartley’s body was recovered more than 10 days after the disaster, the violin was found in a leather case strapped to him, according to the folklore that has grown up around the event.

It was given back to Hartley’s fiancée Maria Robinson in England, and, after she died in 1939, it was donated to her local Salvation Army band and later passed on, eventually to the current owner, whose identity has not been disclosed.

A silver plate on the German-made violin is engraved “For WALLACE on the occasion of our ENGAGEMENT from MARIA”.

On sale with its case initialed W.H.H, the violin had a guide price of 300,000 pounds, Chrissie Aldridge, of auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son, said.

“It is a record,” she told Reuters after the sale. Asked who had purchased the violin, she would only say: “A British collector.”

Rediscovered in 2006, it took specialists such as forensic science experts years to authenticate the instrument.

However some people still doubt whether the violin is genuine, believing it could not have survived being submerged in sea water.

The auction house said it had attracted interest from collectors all over the world. More than 300,000 people viewed it during a three-month exhibition in the United States. ($1 = 0.6178 British pounds)