Within 30 seconds of meeting JD, better known as titanicfan97 on TikTok, he’ll introduce you to Jack Dawson, i.e. a large dummy with head of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character of the same name from the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic.”
“We got Jack Dawson,” he says over Zoom, pointing to an enormous shrine of the movie behind him. “And ‘Titanic,’ and Captain Smith. You know what’s going on.”
JD, a video editor who lives in Florida, is best known for his energetic love of the movie “Titanic” on VHS, and his collection is approaching 1,600 copies of the two-tape set. Although he’s picked up about 300 himself, mostly from thrift stories and yard sales, the rest come from enthusiastic fans mailing him copies over the last year, as he’s documented his growing collection on TikTok to over 108,000 followers.
The account is brimming with optimism, a mix of unboxing videos, tributes to the film, trips to thrift stores and plenty of other moments celebrating the James Cameron epic.
In his trademark excitable tone, JD says his obsession with the movie came when he saw it in theaters at 6 years old.
“It was Jack Dawson mania,” he says. “You already know what’s going down. You couldn’t escape it back in the day. And my family loved ‘Titanic,’ so I just blended myself in with all the ‘Titanic’ going around at the time.”
JD said the the collection began a bit more than a decade ago, but really took off in the last year.
“In 2012, we picked up a few copies,” he said. “The shop had them on display on the top shelf, so it looked glorious. And I’m like, ‘I know no one’s ever going to buy these.’ They’re super cheap, so we got a box and filled it with all the ‘Titanics, and we slowly started collecting it for a few years. We had about 100 before I started making the TikTok, so it really was last year when we went from 100 to 1,560 or so. It kind of exploded on its own. I have no control at this point.”
In addition to VHS copies of the film, fans worldwide have sent titanicfan97 fan art and unique trinkets, such as a crocheted Jack Dawson that has become a mascot for the collection, an authenticated piece of a deck chair from the ship, and a Japanese copy of the film on VHS.
JD’s “Titanic” shrine is in his former editing office, and is quickly taking over the room. Given that he’s received hundreds of packages from fans already and has plenty left to open, he anticipates having to eventually move the collection up to his bedroom — a bigger space.
Beyond his home setup, titanicfan97 has taken his movies on the road, showing up at some conventions with the Jack Dawson doll and copies of “Titanic” on VHS. JD has more trips planned for this year, including touring some Titanic museums and attending Tampa’s anime convention Metrocon.
His ultimate goal? The next benchmark is 1,997 copies, in order to commemorate the year Cameron’s film came out.
After that, the sky’s the limit.
“They made 25 million of them,” he said. “So at least a million copies…I think I can recover that many.”
See more photos from titanicfan97’s collection below.