Sure, director James Cameron's disaster/romance epic Titanic is the costliest film ever made, taking a record $200 million out of 20th Century Fox and Paramount's deep joint pockets. But initial word says this is anything but a sinking ship. In fact, those who've seen Titanic say it's actually pretty darned good.

More than 2,000 people--most of them squealing, Leonardo DiCaprio-crazed girls--crammed Tokyo's Orchard Hall Saturday for the world premiere of Titanic at the city's annual film festival. Their reaction was a film studio's dream.

And it wasn't just that the crowd showed enthusiastic appreciation for the picture's much-hyped special effects--and dialogue that includes DiCaprio saying at one point, "This is bad," when the frigid North Atlantic waters begin to rise around him.

Critics, too, ran out of thumbs to put up. "Not only will James Cameron's formidable cinematic vessel sail sensationally on domestic waters, but...Titanic will propel blockbuster results around the world," gushed the Hollywood Reporter. Rival trade Daily Variety was similarly impressed: "A spectacular demonstration of what modern technology can contribute to dramatic storytelling, James Cameron's romantic epic...will send viewers in search of synonyms for the title to describe the film's size and scope."

After the premiere, a relieved Cameron put his spin on the disaster pic's notorious delays. High expectations and just plain bad luck pushed Titanic off schedule (it was originally set for an Independence Day release; it's now due out December 19) and out of budget, he explained. He also made a good point to justify the film's expense: "What you will lose as a result of a film like Titanic is maybe three Steven Segal films."

Of course, regardless of Titanic's apparent good karma going into its London premiere November 18, it's doubtful the picture can turn a profit. "It has to make at least $250 million domestically to even begin recouping," Industry analyst Harold Vogel told the Associated Press. Risk for the studios is marginal, though, since the film was jointly bankrolled.

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