Among those household names are the Acura division of Honda Motor, the CBS Corporation, the Walt Disney Company, Gannett, Geico, the National Geographic Society, The New York Times, News Corporation, PBS, the Smithsonian Institution, Time Warner, the Tribune Company and Viacom.
Their interest in feeding the public’s apparently ceaseless interest in the doomed ship has brought an outpouring of new apps, books, collectibles, DVDs, films, magazines, maps, newspaper reprints, television programs, trinkets and video games — all atop the mountains of merchandise and media that have been sold in the last century.
The Titanic mania contrasts with what happened almost 15 years ago, the last time the ship was so much a part of the vernacular. Then, the surprising success of ’s “Titanic” to figure out how to ride the coattails of the movie. Now, corporations have long been ready to commemorate the 100th anniversary.
For instance, The Los Angeles Times, owned by the Tribune Company, planned for several months to publish an e-book, “Titanic: 100 Years Later,” featuring material from the pages of the newspaper — including, said Larry Harnisch, a copy editor at The Times who helped compile the e-book, “an ad for its return trip to England.”
The approaching centennial was a reason for devoting one of the newspaper’s first e-books to the Titanic, Mr. Harnisch said, as was the decision by the Paramount division of Viacom and the 20th Century Fox division of News Corporation .
Mr. Cameron is represented this time not only by his movie but by “Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron,” a special on the National Geographic Channel cable network and by articles in magazines including National Geographic.
“The Titanic is a great story for us, a story of obsession and exploration,” said Chris Johns, editor in chief of National Geographic magazine. He said the combined print and digital sales of the April issue, with the Titanic as the cover article, could be “our biggest-selling one ever.” It is already the largest single-issue sale on the .
David Lyle, chief executive at National Geographic Channels U.S., a joint venture of the National Geographic Society and the News Corporation, said that viewership last Sunday for the Cameron cable special, and for a special the next evening, “Save the Titanic With Bob Ballard,” was large enough that both will be repeated on Friday and Sunday.
“It could be a titanic Titanic weekend,” Mr. Lyle said, adding that he believed a reason for the “great fascination” was that its fate “compels us to say, ‘What would I have done?’ ”
“Would I have been scrambling for the lifeboats?” he mused. “Or helping the women and children? Or going back to my stateroom for a brandy, listening to ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ and complaining one of the violins was out of tune?”
Other television specials include a mini-series on ABC, part of Disney, on Saturday and Sunday, with Tourism Ireland running commercials on network-owned stations in markets like New York; two programs on PBS; presentations on Saturday of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “A Night to Remember” on Turner Classic Movies; “Titanic’s Final Mystery” and “The Real Story: Titanic” on Smithsonian Channel; and “Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved,” on Sunday on the History cable channel, with Acura and Geico as the largest sponsors.
The Titanic’s tale still resonates because “this was the first truly international tragedy covered worldwide by the media,” said Dirk Hoogstra, senior vice president for programming and development at History.
The most recent Titanic special on History, in 2006, was the channel’s second highest rated show of that year among viewers 25 to 54.
“For our viewers, the Titanic encompasses science, technology and history, topics men like and get a lot of on our network,” said Carl Lindahl, executive producer of the new special for History.
History is not the only media outlet revisiting the Titanic. Life and Essence Books, part of Time Warner, has published a book bearing the Life brand, “Titanic: The Tragedy That Shook the World: One Century Later.” It comes 15 years after the monthly version of Life magazine published a cover article on the Titanic in June 1997.
That issue of Life “sold terrifically,” said Robert Sullivan, managing editor of Life Books, and “that was certainly in our mind when the hundredth anniversary came up.”
Likewise, The New York Times, which has added Titanic merchandise to its online store, has been selling items related to the Titanic “since the store started in 1998,” said Jim Mones, director of the store.
“There’s great hunger for anything Titanic,” he added. “We’ve sold thousands of commemorative papers. Titanic is like the Civil War.”
Might the centennial of the sinking represent a, er, um, high-water mark for Titanic mania?
Sometimes, Mr. Lyle of National Geographic Channels U.S. said, he believes “this is going to be the peak.”
“But James Cameron said every generation rediscovers the Titanic,” he added. “Who knows where we might be in another 10 or 15 years?”