Joshua Rich's online-only preview: The ''Poseidon'' remake should float to No. 1, but just barely

By Joshua Rich
May 12, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Poseidon: Claudette Barius

Here we go again? and I have a sinking feeling about the box office this week. No, I mean it. Poseidon, director Wolfgang Petersen’s remake of The Poseidon Adventure, is the big summer movie release this weekend, and its prospects don’t look great. I’ll elaborate in a moment, but first, some full disclosure. I spent a fair amount of time on the set of Poseidon last fall. I hung out with many of the movie’s stars as well as with Petersen himself (perhaps the nicest guy in Hollywood, by the way). I wrote about those experiences for this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, the magazine, so it’s with a little bit of hesitation that I put on my box office savant cap and pass judgment on the film for Entertainment Weekly, the website.

Especially because of what I’m about to say: The movie is not going to do very well. Why? Well, here’s what Warner Bros. production president Jeff Robinov, the big cheese at the studio from whence Poseidon sets sail, told me when we chatted a week ago. ”Obviously we’d like the tracking to be stronger than it is, but it’s hard in this competitive environment,” he said. ”I’d be lying if I didn’t say the tracking hasn’t been as encouraging as we’d like it to be. But our hope is?that we [start getting] tracking that is much more encouraging than it has been. That’s the truth.” I commend Robinov for being so frank about how poor awareness for the film has been. Indeed, Poseidon has some rough waters ahead of it. The film is based on a 34-year-old property that nobody was really begging to see remade. It has no major stars, and its most prominent lead, Josh Lucas, recently appeared in Glory Road (which earned an inglorious $42.6 million) and — I hate to even mention it — Stealth (which totally crashed at $32.1 mil). And there’s some question about whether director Petersen is the kind of box office draw he used to be. His last movie, Troy, may have been a pretty good hit globally, but it definitely disappointed in the U.S. and Canada, earning $133.4 mil. I’d be surprised if Poseidon ultimately reaches even a number like that domestically; first it’ll have to get past an unimpressive $25 mil opening on 3,555 screens.

Despite all the blah-blah about Tom Cruise losing his fans and Mission: Impossible 3‘s disappointing opening last weekend, it’s looking like the Paramount movie will still be in contention to battle for No. 1. It may not get there, but a drop of 50 percent means it’ll come in around $24 mil, which would put it in the neighborhood of Poseidon. Hey, I know, call me crazy and send me to a psychiatrist — I see it happening. Meanwhile, opening on a moderate 1,007 screens, Disney’s soccer story Goal! The Dream Begins will only score $5 mil, while Fox’s youth-oriented romantic comedy Just My Luck debuts in 2,541 venues and will earn $10 mil, thanks to its lead actress, Lindsay Lohan. Whoa — wait a sec — the girl from the tabloids acts?

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