The buzz surrounding today's release of the blockbuster movie Titanic is spreading to the Web, another example of the Net's growing influence both to promote and educate.
Like many feature films, the movie has its own Web site. "A collision of lives that only could have happened on Titanic, the ship of dreams." It includes a virtual reality tour of Titanic on April 10, 1912, the time of the ill-fated voyage. Netizens also can email "Marconigrams" from Titanic to friends, see clips from the movie, read interviews with the cast, and view the wreck itself filmed some 12,500 feet beneath the Atlantic.
Hollywood studios, led by the likes of Rupert Murdoch's Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom's Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Disney, increasingly are turning to Web sites to promote movies, and they are adding plenty of technology "bells and whistles" to go along. They report that sites are a relatively low-cost way of promoting the movies and getting people into the theater.
In this case, Fox and Paramount are seeking to recoup one of the biggest expenditures ever on a movie, which exceeded its budget and is being released later than expected. The Web site for Titanic is among the most elaborate as well.
But Titanic Web sites aren't limited to Hollywood studio versions.
Also today, Encyclopedia Britannica is launching a Web site about the ocean liner, admittedly meant to coincide with the movie's release. It includes Britannica's own information on the Titanic, including details on icebergs, biographies on well-known passengers such as "the unsinkable Molly Brown," and photographs.
The site is sober and factual. "Only the arrival of the Cunard liner Carpathia one hour and 20 minutes after the Titanic went down prevented further loss of life in the icy waters," the site points out.
The Britannica site also lists about a dozen related Web sites about the Titanic, such as "Titanic: Raising a legend" by the Discovery Channel.
Yahoo lists some 90 sites for Titanic.