But director James Cameron has remained steadfastly confident in the science of his tear-jerker ending. "It's not a question of room, it's a question of buoyancy," he told IGN in a September interview, after the film's 3D re-release reinvigorated the debate.
Fifteen years after "Titanic" hit theaters, Cameron appeared on Sunday night's episode of "Mythbusters," asking the show's energetic problem solvers to weigh in on the plausibility of his ending.
With Adam Savage standing in for Jack and Jamie Hyneman playing Rose, the "Mythbusters" hosts performed their own "Titanic" board experiment in open water, asking whether both heroes could have fit on the board for 63 minutes until being rescued.
After several unsuccessful attempts to climb onto the board without losing too much buoyancy, Savage and Hyneman tied a life jacket to the bottom of the wooden slab, allowing them both to remain safely above water for 63 full minutes.
"Maybe we screwed up and the board should have been a tiny bit smaller, but the dude's going down," Cameron conceded after the experiment. But when it comes to movie-making, story always beats out science.
“I think you guys are missing the point,” he added. “The script says Jack died. He has to die."