Suining (China) (AFP)
The Titanic is returned from the depths, more than a century after its infamous maiden voyage, to a landlocked Chinese theme park where tourists can soon spend a night on a full-scale replica.
The project’s main funder was inspired to recreate the world’s most infamous cruise liner by the box office hit of the same name in 1997 – once the highest-grossing film in the world and hugely popular in China.
The original luxury vessel, the largest of its time and marked “unsinkable” by its owners, has become synonymous with pride since it plunged into the depths of the Atlantic in 1912 after hitting an iceberg, making more 1,500 dead.
Investor Su Shaojun said he was motivated to fund the daring 260-meter-long (850-foot-long) duplicate to keep memories of the Titanic alive.
“I hope this ship will be there in 100 or 200 years,” Su said.
“We are building a museum for the Titanic. ”
It took six years – longer than the original Titanic was built – over 23,000 tons of steel, over a hundred workers, and a hefty price tag of one billion yuan ($ 153.5 million) .
Everything from the dining room to the luxury cabins and even the door handles is designed on the original Titanic.
It is the centerpiece of a theme park in Sichuan province more than 1000 kilometers (620 miles) from the sea.
The site features a replica of the Port of Southampton seen in James Cameron’s 1997 epic disaster, where Leonardo DiCaprio’s fictional character Jack swings aboard after winning his ticket in a bet.
The tour buses play the theme of the film, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, on repeat.
It costs up to 2,000 yuan (about $ 150) to spend a night on the ship for “five-star cruise service,” Su says, adding that with a working steam engine, guests will feel really at sea.
He was so excited by the challenge that he sold his assets in the energy sector, including a stake in several hydroelectric projects, to invest in the Titanic.
– ‘Inheriting the great spirit’ –
But even before it opened, the replica sparked a lot of controversy.
Users online have wondered if the famous ship would attract tourists given the disaster that struck her real inspiration.
Others feared it would join other ambitious Chinese construction projects that turned into white elephants – including a 2008 replica of the USS Enterprise, an American aircraft carrier, which cost more than $ 18 million. of dollars and was discontinued shortly after it opened.
But Su hopes that up to five million annual visitors will come to see his Titanic.
“This tourist volume should guarantee the return of our investment,” he added.
Project director Xu Junnian said it was important to preserve the memory of the ship.
“The greatest importance of building this ship is to advance and inherit the great spirit of the Titanic,” he said.
Besides the enduring appeal of the Hollywood blockbuster, the Titanic has made headlines in China in recent weeks with the release of a new documentary called “The Six”.
The film tells the story of a group of Chinese travelers on board when the ship sinks, six of whom survived.
“We would like to invite Jack, Rose and James Cameron to the dedication ceremony,” said Su.
© 2021 AFP