BEIJING (AP) — Construction on the world's first full-sized Titanic replica has started in China, a country with a well-documented fascination with the tale of the ill-fated ocean liner.
The 300-meter (984-foot) vessel being built by the Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Co. is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018 and will remain permanently docked as a tourist attraction in landlocked Sichuan province. Wuchang executives told a provincial newspaper that its liner will faithfully replicate the original Titanic, with a dining hall, theater, luxury first-class cabins and swimming pool.
The vessel, however, won't be able to sail away from the reservoir near the hilly Sichuan village where it'll be docked — although guests onboard will be able to dine and stay overnight.
The original Titanic sank in 1912 after striking an iceberg, killing more than 1,500 people.
The 1997 film by James Cameron was one of the first foreign films to enter modern China and became such a massive hit that then-president Jiang Zemin reportedly recommended that the entire Communist Party Politburo see it .
The 2012 3D-remake broke box office records in China and to this day, a significant portion of Chinese of a certain generation can sing "My Heart Will Go On," the Celine Dion theme song.
"Titanic" is a story of a poor young man and a rich girl, which more accords with Chinese audiences' taste. This kind of plot has a long history in the popular culture of China," opined People's Daily in 2012. The Communist Party's official mouthpiece also urged China's budding film industry to copy Cameron's "professional spirit."
To film his 1997 title, Cameron built — and sank — a replica constructed at a scale of 90 percent.
Wuchang's ship could be the first full-scale replica after recent reports emerged that Australian tycoon Clive Palmer's plans to build a working replica, the Titanic II, have been delayed.
Wuchang, the shipbuilder, is owned by China's central government and builds nuclear submarines, China Daily quoted an executive involved in the project as saying.