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Movies' second drafts: Titanic, Star Wars, and more

Changing the sky in 'Titanic' for its 3-D re-release isn't the first time movies have been tinkered with.

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Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox

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When "Titanic" set sail for its 3-D encore this month, moviegoers saw a new ending.

After the movie's original run in 1997, astrophysicist and science celebrity Neil deGrasse Tyson objected that the night sky didn't match reality. Director James Cameron had spent millions crafting an accurate depiction of the star-crossed ship. But when it came to the constellations overhead, it seems, he faked it.

"Worse than that, it was not only the wrong sky – the left half of the sky was a mirror reflection of the right half of the sky," Mr. Tyson said in 2009. "It was not only wrong; it was lazy."

Computers can tell us exactly how the stars looked that night in 1912. So for the film's 2012 return, Cameron digitally repainted the sky. Small change, sure. But it continues a trend of directors futzing around with movies well after their debuts. "Director's cuts" are an established part of Hollywood history, yet such second drafts typically incorporate footage that already existed when the film was released. Few movies warrant brand-new material years after the fact.

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