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Mock the Boat

“Titanic” parodies are in the works, but will audiences laugh?

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If “Titanic” fans think that, surely, no one would dare make a parody of the beloved hit, they should think again… (and stop calling me Shirley). Pat Proft, the cowriter of the “Naked Gun” and “Hot Shots” spoofs, is scripting “Titanic Too — It Missed the Iceberg.” The project’s producers are talking to Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley and David Hasselhoff about starring in the film, which is aiming for an early 1999 release. Also, New Line Cinema has commissioned a script for a “Titanic” send-up about a ship two-and-a-half inches shorter than the historic boat.

Just don’t expect the parodies to be swept up in “Titanic”‘s record-breaking, $1 billion-plus box office wake. “These movies are likely to be shipwrecked on the Hollywood shores,” says CNN movie analyst Martin Grove. For one thing, recent spoofs have done poorly. Last weekend, the Tarantino parody “Plump Fiction” opened to a dismal $37,260 in limited release. And “Wrongfully Accused,” a “Fugitive” parody written and directed by Proft and starring Nielsen (August 7), hasn’t been getting great buzz.

An even bigger obstacle that could keep these takeoffs from taking off at the box office: “Titanic”‘s millions of fans see nothing to laugh about. “Most people took the movie very seriously, and something that pokes fun at it has a narrow audience,” says Grove. “You also have to remember that 1,500 people died as a result of “Titanic” hitting that iceberg. Is that really funny?”