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According to what I have gathered on the James Cameron's Titanic about the movie extras:

  • There were a total of 18,000 extras employed for the film.
    • 150 stayed the entire six months (October of 1996 to March of 1997) for shooting on the RMS Titanic set, they were the Core Extras.
    • 500 of them worked as the people in the water that were there for two weeks (that's how long the open water sequences took to shoot).
    • 2,000 extras were hired for three day shoots.