Why Millennials Are Still Obsessed with ‘Titanic’ 25 Years Later

Earlier this year, I sat in an off-Broadway theater in New York City (which happened to be the former home of Amy Poehler’s improv comedy troop Upright Citizens Brigade and which also happened to be in the basement of a supermarket) and I prepared myself for one of the most talked-about musicals of 2022: Titanique.

The parody musical inspired by the 1997 James Cameron film was all I had been hearing about in friend circles, comedy circles and theatrical circles alike. The gist of the show? What if real-life person Celine Dion had actually been on the Titanic (the film version of course), and what if she narrated her story and the story of Jack and Rose? And what if the whole thing was set to Celine Dion music?

Sensical? Hardly. Ripe for a comedic nostalgia-fest? Absolutely.

As I clutched my surprisingly inexpensive white wine and surveyed the audience, I noticed something strange: Almost everyone there to see the show was about my age. It was a house packed full of millennials.

Where were the boomers I almost exclusively sit next to at any theatrical event in New York City? Where were the Gen Z-ers who typically get their news—including theater news—from social media, which had been all abuzz about Titanique for weeks?

While I waited, I did a quick Google search of the show’s co-creators (who also play the roles of Dion and Jack in the musical) to confirm what I already suspected: They were both millennials.

It dawned on me that though I’d never articulated it before, this was all confirmation of something I’d always known: Titanic was and is the ultimate millennial movie. Sorry, Gen Z. Despite your best efforts to make this your thing—don't think we didn't notice #titanic has 11.6 billion views on TikTok—this film belongs to us.

These ‘Titanic’ Mistakes Are So Obvious We Can’t Believe We Missed Them


Since that’s how time works, this month marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Titanic. So looking back, why was it such an important movie to millennials when it first hit theaters and why, all these years later, are we still so obsessed with it? The answer, I think, is multi-fold.

We millennials—and specifically the xennial portion of that generation—were in a formative period of our lives when this film came out. And Titanic was a huge part of pop culture at the time.

Obviously, it was a massive movie with a massive budget ($200 million) that made a massive amount of money ($2.2 billion) and won a massive amount of awards (11 Oscars to be exact). It starred two emerging Hollywood A-listers in the ultimate tragic love story. It featured a heart-wrenching song by the one and only Celine Dion. It was everywhere and it was all anybody was talking about. It was our collective Heart of the Ocean.


And more than it being the ultimate water cooler topic (or juice box topic, depending on when in the millennial range you were born), the film was infiltrating pop culture in a profound way beyond the short term. Its effects were becoming ingrained in a much more lasting manner.

Kids and adults alike were walking around yelling, “I’m the king of the world!” like regular Jack Dawsons. Nine years later, Michael Scott would prove the line’s staying power by recreating the moment in the “Booze Cruise” episode of The Office, another favorite of millennials.

Several years after the film’s release, Ms. Music Millennial herself Britney Spears would reference Titanic’s Heart of the Ocean necklace in her “Oops!...I Did It Again” song and video, “I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean at the end.” It was 2000 and, like Rose to Jack, millennials were not ready to let the film go.


We also shouldn’t discount Dion’s ability to cement this movie as a pivotal moment in millennial history with “My Heart Will Go On,” a ballad that would inevitably be played on iPods (and sung at weddings) for decades to come.

And, of course, there was the love story itself, portrayed beautifully (albeit with clumsy accents) by soon-to-be mega-stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Millennials wanted to follow their every move on the red carpet and beyond. And we wanted their on-screen romance for ourselves. This is not an easily forgotten love tale after all.

Even revisiting the special effects of the film now, millennials can appreciate the more rudimentary methods used. We love and can admire old-school Jurassic Park-type effects that didn’t rely entirely on CGI. There was a literal giant boat set that extras hung from and fell down during the film’s climactic scene. There was the water rushing into the grand dining room—real water that destroyed the movie set rather than CGI water effects.

titanic im king of the world

With such a pop culture phenomenon occurring at a formative period of our lives, it’s no wonder we are still obsessed with the film two-and-a-half decades later. It still provides a nostalgic look back, reminding us of a different time (and I’m talking about 1997, not 1912 when the boat sank).

All of this to say, in retrospect, Titanic clearly was and is a millennial movie, that still holds a place in the hearts of the entire generation. Now whether or not Rose could’ve made room for Jack on that damn door? That’s another question entirely.

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VP, News and Entertainment; 'And Just Like That' Podcast Host; Up-And-Coming Bowler

Philip spearheads PureWow's news and entertainment team. He has 10+ years experience working in entertainment coverage and viral media, previously serving as a writer/editor...