The Titanic door controversy explained

It's features in one of the most controversial scenes in cinematic history

James Cameron defends Titanic ending, Mythbusters theory is 'full of s**t'
The door featured in James Cameron's Titanic has been the subject of much debate since the release of the 1997 film. (Twentieth Century Fox)

The infamous door from James Cameron's Titanic has been sold at auction for $718k (£516k), it was sold at a memorabilia auction by Planet Hollywood.

Titanic charts the love story between passengers Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) during the ship's maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, which met with disaster when it struck an iceberg in 1912. The prop serves an important purpose in the film, but it is one that has been met with much controversy in the decades since the 1997 movie's release.

Read more: 15 things you might not know about James Cameron's romantic classic Titanic

For those who are not aware, or simply want to go on a trip down memory lane of one of cinema's most talked about scenes, here is everything you need to know about the door.

The Titanic door controversy explained

Los Angeles.CA.USA. Kate Winslet  as Rose DeWitt Bukater  and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson in  a scene from the ©Twentieth Century Fox movie Titanic (1997).  Ref:LMK110-LIB231112-002   Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets.
The door from Titanic has sold at auction for $718k, and it has caused much debate over whether two people could have fit on it. (Twentieth Century Fox)

The door that sold at auction featured in the climactic moment of Titanic, after the ship had begun sinking and the passengers who were able to escape were left stranded in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Rose and Jack are two of the passengers unable to fit into the Titanic's lifeboats who try to survive by using debris — they found a door.

The reason the door is so controversial is because of what happens next: Rather than both try to fit on the door Jack insists that Rose get on it and remains in the water. Rose tells Jack she will "never let go" after Jack succumbs to the cold and dies, the last scene featuring DiCaprio shows him sinking into the ocean as Winslet's Rose calls for rescue boats to "come back".

The uproar this scene has caused stems from one thing: people believe the door could have fit two people. The question over whether there was space for two people has been debated for years, and many people have even tested out the possibility like Mythbusters.

Watch: Mythbusters tests the theory that Jack could have fit on the door with Rose in Titanic

Cameron, Winslet and DiCaprio have also all spoken on the infamous scene. In an interview with Yahoo in 2022, Winslet said of the scene: "It’s funny, the door seems to have had a resurgence over the last few years. I don’t know why.

"People seem to be doing all kinds of experiments as to whether or not they could’ve really fit on the door. It’s hilarious. It’s one of those unanswerable questions. We’ll have to just go back there again and see if we could really both get on that door eventually."

The same year, Winslet spoke on the Happy Sad Confused podcast about the scene and when asked if two people could have fit on the door the actor said: "Yes he could have fit. He could have fit on that door, but it would not have stayed afloat. It wouldn't."

Winslet added: "I actually don't believe that we would have survived if we had both gotten on that door. I think he could have fit but it would have tipped and it would not have been a sustainable idea."

James Cameron defends Titanic ending, Mythbusters theory is 'full of s**t'
James Cameron has said he has since had a forensic test done, which concluded only one person could have survived on the door. (Twentieth Century Fox)

DiCaprio has famously chosen not to speak publicly about the debate, and in a 2019 interview with MTV he repeatedly said he had "no comment" on the debate even when he was pushed for an answer by his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood co-stars Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt.

Cameron actually tested the theory, in an interview with the Toronto Sun the director revealed he had a forensic analysis done to replicate the scene in order to "put this whole thing to rest and drive a stake through its heart once and for all". The test concluded that only one person could have fit on the door and survived.

He told the publication: "We took two stunt people who were the same body mass of Kate and Leo and we put sensors all over them and inside them and we put them in ice water and we tested to see whether they could have survived through a variety of methods and the answer was, there was no way they both could have survived. Only one could survive."

Titanic is available to stream on Disney+.