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James Cameron gave back his Titanic paycheck because it cost so much

When James Cameron made the hit drama movie Titanic, he decided to give up his paycheck for the project because the budget of the film was so high

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic

You’d think that making one of the highest-grossing movies of all time would lead to a pretty tidy payday, but James Cameron made no money from the ‘90s movie Titanic – because he gave it all away.

The epic disaster movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, was one of the biggest films around when it was released in 1997. The star power of its two lead actors, combined with the fact it was a tragic movie based on a true story that people wanted to know more about, has led to Titanic raking in over $2.2 billion at the box-office in its time.

In an interview with Howard Stern, Cameron has revealed he saw none of that money. It’s all his own choice though, as he explains why he gave up his paycheck.

“We told them [the budget would be] $120 million and that’s what we thought it was going to cost,” Cameron said. “That’s why I wound up giving them all my money, because I was like ‘Guys, I don’t want you think we lied to you just to get you to make this movie.'”

“It was three solid years, pretty much from the time I finished True Lies,” Cameron explained. Stern then asked, “OK, you had the idea, you worked on the script, you wrote the script yourself, and then you shot this thing, and you’ve given back all rights to this movie? You own nothing of this movie, and you will make zero dollars?”

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Cameron’s reasons for giving up the rights to the romance movie are simple, but may not be the decision other people would have made in his position: “Well, I own the authorship of the film. It depends on how much money means. I don’t make money off this film… but my philosophy is I take responsibility, the buck stops here.”

We wonder if Cameron will make any money when Avatar 2 comes around. Probably, is the answer, and we’re sure he’s more than made up for missing out on the profits from Titanic since.