I also think that the 97 film wouldn't have worked without Jack and Rose, it would've been a documentary-style film like A Night to Remember and probably wouldn't have done that well at the box office.
I also think that the 1953 film wouldn't have worked if it handn't been for Stanwyck and Webb (Richard and Julia.)
It certainly wasn't a documentary-type film like '' A Night To Remember '' .
And the Annette-Gifford was certainly a lot tamer than the Jack-Rose.
Although I don't know how good or bad it did at the box office ?
The 1953 film was a fair box office success, but it is very inaccurate in spots. Two years after this movie came out, Walter Lord's book A Night to Remember came out which told the sinking much more accurately, and its own movie adaptation came out three years after that.
When the 1958 movie version of A Night to Remember was released in America, there was concern among movie producers that it wouldn't do well because there were no major American stars in it, but it still gained quite a bit of money in the US.
There is a fictional couple of newlyweds in the film, but it's not as intense a relationship as the Annette-Gifford and Jack-Rose ones and only serves to reflect one of the many types of people who were on the Titanic and how their lives were impacted by the tragic and unexpected disaster.
He talks about this directly in "Exploring The Deep", in fact he states the whole reason The Abyss was made was because of the 85/86 expeditions. Jim had written the story when he was in middle school, but he stated he copied directly Alvin and Jason Jr into the film, which also peaked his interest in the ship.
It was not until the 1991 IMAX film came out when he decided to make a Titanic film
Cameron's interest is in the exploration of the deep. He wanted to tell the story of Titanic as a way to go see the wreck himself. Had he still wanted to portray the Titanic and the ship not found it would most likely have centered around either 1: The exploration to find the ship and/or 2: A 'fake' discovery of the ship- which he probably would have portrayed as accurately as possible based off eye witness accounts and science. As mentioned previously the IMAX is what sparked his interest in wanting to see the wreck and to film the wreck in a 'movie' fashion (aka romantically - as filmmakers call it). It would be interesting in the sense that perhaps he could have written a script and produced a 'Titanic' movie without actually directing it as he wouldn't have the wreck to necessarily spark the quest to make such an 'authentic' version.
I don't think he would have made it. The 85 discovery renewed the publics interest in Titanic. But even with that the studio's didn't want to spend the money on another Titanic movie. He had to sell it as Romeo and Juliet on the high sea's to get it made. The studio's know that teenage money buying tickets is whats keeping them alive. I'ts why we get so many comic book movies today.