| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Jan 13 A life-sized replica of the
Titanic will become the centrepiece of a landlocked theme park
in China, featuring a museum and a shipwreck simulation to give
visitors a harrowing sense of the 1912 disaster.
The Chinese version of "the unsinkable ship", with a price
tag of 1 billion yuan ($165 million) and an expected opening
date in 2016, will be built at least 1,500 km (930 miles) from
the nearest ocean in the central province of Sichuan.
Su Shaojun, chief executive of the Seven Star Energy
Investment Group that funded the project, said Asia needs its
own Titanic museum.
"We think it's worth spreading the spirit of the Titanic.
The universal love and sense of responsibility shown during the
Titanic shipwreck represent the spiritual richness of human
civilisation," he told a media conference on Sunday.
The project aims to be more than a museum that replicates
the original ship and the 1997 movie that became a global hit.
The simulation will allow several hundred people at a time to
feel what the shipwreck was like.
"When the ship hits the iceberg, it will shake, it will
tumble," Su said. "We will let people experience water coming in
by using sound and light effects ... They will think, 'The water
will drown me, I must escape with my life'."
The massive and luxurious Titanic sank on April 15, 1912,
during its maiden voyage from the English port of Southampton to
New York, taking more than 1,500 lives with it.
The 1997 movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet,
is the second highest-grossing film on record after Avatar,
bringing in nearly $2.2 billion worldwide.
Bernard Hill, who played Captain Edward Smith in the movie
and flew to Hong Kong to show his support for the Chinese
replica, dismissed suggestions that building a theme park based
on a tragedy was inappropriate.
"It's been approached in a very delicate and a very
sensitive way and they're very aware of the extent of the
disaster in 1912," he said.
"I don't think it will belittle that disaster."
Hill said his flight and hotel were paid for but he did not
get any extra money for taking part in the media conference.
Construction of the Titanic copy is due to begin early this
year. The Romandisea Seven Star International Cultural Tourism
Resort will also feature a man-made beach, a "6D" movie theatre
and replicas of a Venetian church and European castles.
(Editing by John O'Callaghan and Paul Tait)