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'Little boy' from 'Titanic' is still getting paid for his role in the film that released 25 years ago

'It's weird because it's not present in my mind anymore,' said Thompson, who played the role of the boy all those years ago.

'Little boy' from 'Titanic' is still getting paid for his role in the film that released 25 years ago
Cover Image Source: Twitter / @Studio10au

If you have watched the movie Titanic, you probably remember this one scene of a little Irish boy standing with his mother and sister in a large group of third-class passengers waiting for the gate to the lifeboats to open. He gave a brief but powerful performance, where his character would die along with his mother and sibling in a cabin when the "unsinkable" ship struck an iceberg. However, it looks like this kid in the movie is still being paid more than two decades after the movie was released. Despite having a minor role in the movie, Reece Thompson's character brought attention to the Titanic's numerous underprivileged passengers. 

Cover Image Source: 1997 Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in James Cameron's
1997 Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in James Cameron's "Titanic." | Getty Images / Handout


According to Business Insider, Thompson doesn't remember quite a lot from his TV debut but sure enough, each year a small royalty of a small sum reminds him of the Oscar-winning movie. His acting career started out as a child model, signing with an agency after winning a contest. He claims that his talent left his mother with two options— starring in an ad for a petrol station, or taking a small part in a 'major motion picture'. She chose the latter and encouraged him forward for his role in the Titanic when he was just five years old. "It turned out to be one of the highest-grossing films in history, so it's pretty bizarre in retrospect," he said. "My mom was like, 'Let's just do it. It'll be cool. Even if the movie sucks, we'll see it'." Obviously, it ended up exploding, so that wasn't a bad decision on her part, that's for sure." Today, Reece is the digital marketing director at Brian Head Resort, a skiing and snowboarding resort in Utah. 

"It's weird because it's not present in my mind anymore," Reece said. "It's not like, 'Oh, when am I going to get a new Titanic check'?" He added, "When it happens, it's like, 'Oh, cool, an extra $100.'" Thompson said he doesn't recollect a lot from his auditions and acting but apparently he had a hard time with changing his pronunciation of the words or even understanding what an accent was. "If you listen to it, it doesn't sound very Irish," he said. "It just sounds soft-spoken. I remember trying to mimic what the speech coach was trying to do. That's as close as I got." Thompson stated that he received a defined amount of pay for his time spent on set. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie grossed $28.6 million in the US on its first weekend when it was released on December 19, 1997.



Thompson earned about $30,000, which was invested and put into bank accounts but most of it was spent on his education, living expenses, and vehicles. He continues to receive checks on a quarterly basis but sometimes they would be in the "low thousands." There might be an increase in the amounts, such as when the VHS and DVD versions were released in 1998 and 1999. The movie was also rereleased on DVD in 2005, Blu-ray in 2012, and in theatres by AMC Theatres in 2017. Thompson claimed that despite the Titanic -3D release in 2012, the residuals didn't really increase. The website of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists states that for films, "residuals begin once the movie appears on video/DVD, basic cable and free or pay television or new media." 



SAG-AFTRA, processes between 1.5 million and 1.6 million residual checks annually. As long as the Titanic movie makes a big impact on theatre and TV audiences, Thompson and the other Titanic actors will continue to earn residuals every year. "There have been a couple of times where it's been like, 'Oh, wow, that's a $250 check. This movie's 12 years old. That's pretty bizarre'," he said. "But hopefully, they keep playing it a lot, because that means more money for me."

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