If the idea of Netflix bringing back director James Cameron’s 1997 Oscar-winning Titanic this weekend, so soon after the Titan sub disaster, sounds ill-timed and in poor taste to you — well, you’re not alone.
That’s the same sentiment a number of users are expressing across social media following this move by Netflix, never mind that it’s entirely coincidental. As one Twitter user opined, “Netflix marketing director: ‘You know how we could really capitalize on the tragic deaths of those people? Put the Titanic on Netflix for some easy cash because $31.6 billion a year in revenue isn’t enough.’”
Like many third-party titles that Netflix doesn’t own, Titanic has actually come and gone from the streamer on multiple occasions in recent years. Moreover, the way these kinds of licensing deals are hammered out covers an extended period of time, meaning Netflix couldn’t really turn on a dime and quickly add a specific third-party title in response to a news event even if it wanted to.
My point being: It’s 100% coincidental that Cameron’s romantic drama — which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as fictional Titanic passengers — will return to Netflix on July 1 in the US and Canada. These licensing agreements are hammered out way in advance, and the one for Titanic was certainly in place before four passengers and a pilot were confirmed dead days ago in the Titan submersible craft that had set out to explore the wreckage of the Titanic.
I get the sentiment though; the timing certain looks less than ideal. Netflix exists to maximize the engagement of its paying subscribers, and this will certainly boost viewership in July. “People died in a tragic accident at the Titanic site and now to capitalize on the moment to garner viewers is beyond distasteful,” another Twitter user lamented.
Cameron himself was in the news following the OceanGate sub’s catastrophic implosion, given that the director himself has done what the sub passengers were attempting — specifically, Cameron has made 33 submersible dives to the Titanic wreckage.
Over the weekend, the US Coast Guard also announced it’s opened an investigation into what happened, with chief investigator Capt. Jason Neubauer explaining in a briefing that: “My primary goal is to prevent a similar occurrence by making the necessary recommendations to enhance the safety of the maritime domain worldwide.”
It’s believed that the sub — which had an unconventional design — suffered a catastrophic implosion, killing everyone onboard relatively quickly.
“And the award for unbelievably insensitive timing goes to @netflix,” reads another tweet calling out the streamer, which also posted the trailer for an upcoming documentary about freediving after the Titan sub was reported missing.
Filmmaker Laura McGann’s documentary The Deepest Breath — a collaboration with A24, Motive Films, Ventureland and RAW, and coming to Netflix on July 14 — likewise seemed to some people like the wrong Netflix release to talk up in that moment. It tells the story of “A champion freediver and expert safety diver (who) seemed destined for one another despite the different paths they took to meet at the pinnacle of the freediving world.”
The Deepest Breath offers “a look at the thrilling rewards — and inescapable risks — of chasing dreams through the depths of the ocean.” Something, of course, that millions of people were reminded of in the worst way possible via the Titan disaster.