How Much Profit Titanic Made That It Was The Highest Grossing Movie For 12 Years

Titanic became one of the biggest blockbusters of all time when it was released in 1997. But exactly how much profit did the movie make?

When it was released in 1997, James Cameron’s Titanic became the highest-grossing movie ever made and remains one of the highest-grossing films to this day – but how much of that gross was profit for the studios? A given movie’s worldwide gross figures don’t consider how much it costs to produce and market the film or the cut that goes to the theaters exhibiting it. Titanic scored a global gross of more than $1.8 billion during its initial run, and that total has increased to $2.2 billion with subsequent re-releases (via Box Office Mojo).

Titanic Jack and Rose with money flying around.

After Titanic surpassed Jurassic Park to become the highest-grossing movie of all time, it held the record for 12 years until it was topped by Cameron’s own Avatar (which was later topped by Avengers: Endgame). At the time, a big-budget dramatization of the sinking of the Titanic was thought to be a sure-fire box office bomb. But Titanic still holds the number four spot on the list of the highest-grossing movies and remains one of Hollywood’s most impressive success stories. How much of Titanic’s historic gross went back to the studios as profit?

Titanic Made An Estimated Profit Of $1.4 Billion At The Box Office

Jack and Rose in the water in Titanic

Titanic netted an estimated profit of $1.4 billion (via The Hollywood Reporter). With a whopping budget of $210 million ($337 million in today’s dollars), Titanic was the most expensive film ever made at the time of its release. The film’s lifetime gross of $2.2 billion is divided into $1.8 billion from its original theatrical run and $400 million from its re-releases. Adjusted for inflation, Titanic has earned around $3.33 billion. The studios behind Titanic – 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures, who split the rights to the film – spent approximately $150 million on marketing.

The general rule of thumb is that 50 percent of box office receipts go to the theaters showing the movie, and the other 50% percent comes back to the producers. But Titanic stayed in theaters a lot longer than the average movie, and the longer a movie stays in theaters, the bigger the distributors’ box office percentage becomes. Rather than the standard 50 percent, Fox and Paramount received around 58 percent of Titanic’s box office revenue. The Hollywood Reporter estimates that the studios made $1.4 billion ($1.9 billion today) in profit from Titanic.

How Titanic’s Box Office Profit Compares To James Cameron’s Other Movies

Jake and Neytiri in the jungle in AvatarTitanic isn’t Cameron’s only commercial hit. Almost all of his other movies have made blockbuster numbers at the box office. According to The Numbers, when Titanic first hit theaters, it was Cameron’s highest-grossing movie by far. But his previous films had all been hits (except for The Abyss, which underperformed). Aliens made $183 million, True Lies made $365 million, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day made $515 million. Cameron eventually topped Titanic’s gross with Avatar’s $2.9 billion and Avatar: The Way of Water’s $2.3 billion.

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