`Titanic' turns disaster into a theme park

IT WAS a disaster. It became a movie. Inevitably, it is now a theme park.

Titanic - Official Movie Tour opened last night heralding a life after death for blockbusters. Twentieth Century Fox and a company called Special Entertainment Events have rebuilt part of the film set at an exhibition hall adjoining Wembley Stadium. For pounds 12 (pounds 8 for children) visitors can walk through the first-class hallway, see the grand staircase and wander through sets from first-class to steerage.

On the way there are interactive listening posts where the director, James Cameron, and the stars, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, talk about the film.

The real special effects are saved for the "sinking corridor" and the "disaster theatre" at the end of the tour, where the final moments of the Titanic are recreated on a set of screens. The ground shakes and water is seen. But seeing water is as close as visitors will get to the less glamorous side of the Titanic experience. "This is a way of capturing the spirit, romance and adventure of the movie - it is not a log flume," said a spokesman a little sniffily.

The set is also a novel venue for corporate hospitality. Fox and Sky TV have booked corporate banquets. As Fox and Sky supremo Rupert Murdoch will have noticed, an official movie tour can have a longer life than the original movie. A Star Trek tour is still doing big business in Germany. After Wembley, Titanic moves on to Holland, France, Germany and Italy.

We await the truly British equivalent - perhaps the Ken Loach official movie tour. Meet you round the back of the social services office.

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