By Ann Hazard
Remember James Cameron’s Titanic? Did you know that almost all of it was filmed in Baja, just below Rosarito? Well ... it was.
Back in 1996 and early ’97, every time my kids and I made the trip south to La Bufadora, we rubber-necked like your typical, gawking tourists whenever we drove by the brand-new Fox Studios Baja. We were curious to see what was going on with the enormous, life-sized ocean liner that floated there in the world’s largest saltwater tanre in the world’s largest saltwater tank. We watched the ship being built. We watched it “sail.” We watched it sink—and it didn’t go down fast, like it did in real life or appeared to in the movie. Actually, it took several weeks to film Titanic’s descent into the deep.
I’ll never forget driving south on the toll road one night in January of 1997. I was by myself. The sky was pitch black. The full moon had just risen up over the mountains. From almost a mile away, I could see floodlights. Titanic, listing at more than a 45-degree angle, loomed up in front of me—solitary, stark and hanging there, suspended in its death throes out there in the darkness. My kids saw it too on our next trip down. Later, when I watched the movie on the big screen, one of my favorite scenes was when Rose and Jack stood together on the ship’s bow, as the aftermath of a spectacular sunset colored the sky in varying shades of magenta. We were supposed to believe they were in the north Atlantic. But I knew better. “Sunset over Rosarito Beach,” is always my comment whenever I see that shot.
You can bet it caused quite a stir in northern Baja when Hollywood came to town. In addition to regular star sightings and plenty of new jobs for the locals, Fox Studios’ arrival gave the resort town an extra boost of sexiness. It isn’t wideextra boost of sexiness. It isn’t widely known that Titanic was filmed there. Hardly anyone knows that six other movies (thus far) have been made in Baja as well … movies like Deep Blue Sea, Weight of Water, Tomorrow Never Dies and the just-released Pearl Harbor. With the studio’s unobstructed ocean views and combined tank volume (in four tanks) of over 20 million gallons, its modern filtration plant with the capability of delivering 9,000 gallons of filtered sea water per minute, Fox Studios Baja is the premier facility for water related film work in the world today. No kidding. And it’s only 20 minutes south of the border.
In May, 2001 Fox Studios Baja opened Foxploration, its behind-the-scenes, movie-making park. This isn’t a kiddy theme park, although kids will undoubtedly enjoy it. Foxploration was conceived with a more sophisticated idea in mind—to offer the public an opportunity to go behind the scenes at a real working movie studio, and to learn firsthand about the production process in an entertaining and interactive way.
Imagine yourself turning right off the Free Relf turning right off the Free Road and entering Fox Studios Baja, a 40-acre complex overlooking the Pacific—with more than 2,000 feet of oceanfront property. When you walk into Foxploration, you’ll begin with a stroll down Canal Street, New York, an actual movie set depicting a typical lower Manhattan street. Behind the set is Cinemágico, which houses a variety of interactive exhibits, and gives you a chance to experience hands-on movie making. Exhibits include special visual and sound effects, model making, set construction, art design, editing, animation, cameras, lenses, lighting techniques and makeup.
The Titanic exhibit has been expanded, moved into a new facility and renamed Titanic Expo. Actual props, sets and costumes from the blockbuster film are on display. You can take a guided tour, learning the history of the ship and the making of James Cameron's Titanic. Other interactive exhibits and elements from deep submersible dives reveal the Titanic as it exists today on the sea floor.
Fox/JVC Presents is a state-of-the-art video screening room that allows you to view behind-the-scenes footage of recent Fox films, new Fox film previews as well as other "making of" footage from productions filmed at Fox Studios Baja. There is also an art gallery that features different artists every month, features different artists every month, showcasing the cream of Baja California art. Nearby is Xavier's School for the Gifted, where kids of all ages can have fun with 50,000 specially designed foam balls.
But, in my mind, Dolly Plaza is the centerpiece of Foxploration. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, it features the original spectacular fountain from Hello Dolly. It’s also a "Sets Boneyard" where you can see and touch actual set pieces from well-known Fox films. Right next to the fountain is Las Olas Open-Air Amphitheater, the perfect venue for live shows and other special events.
There’s more, including the Props and Wardrobe Bodega that is a "working" part of Fox Studios Baja and is used by movie production companies that film at the studio. There is food, and shopping too. Because Foxploration dedicated to promoting the best of Baja, you can expect to find high quality local beer and wines from the nearby Guadalupe Valley.
If you want more information,
or if you’re ready to head south but don’t want to drive, visit Foxploration.com.
The park is hooked up with MexiCoach,
who offers frequent tours south of the border ... down Fox Studios way. of the border ... down Fox Studios way.
Reprinted from the Coast News, May 31, 2001 issue and The Baja Tourist Guide, June 2001 issue.