In retrospect, Poseidon was always a <a href=”
“>tough proposition: a big-budget spectacle film with no major stars. The marketing campaign consisted of one image — a big wave capsizing the titular ocean liner — and a lot of wet people. It’s exactly the sort of movie Hollywood preferred to make in the mid-to-late-’90s (the heyday of Twister and starrier doomsdayers like Armageddon). Now I expect studios will run screaming from disaster films, if they aren’t already. The idea of selling a movie on a single spectacle and/or cataclysm is, as of this morning, officially dead.

Sure, The Day After Tomorrow performed respectably, if not superbly, sans superstars. But Day had two things going for it that Poseidon didn’t: 1) a long buildup of free Da Vinci-ish publicity, thanks to the Bush Administration’s reported opposition to the film; and 2) a word-of-mouth trailer that debuted a good six months before the movie.

After 9/11, know-nothing pundits (such as, oh, me) predicted the death of the disaster flick (who needs movie Armageddon when we’ve got the real thing going?), along with the reality television and irony. These predictions proved stunningly inaccurate. Nevertheless, the ecology of the multiplex has changed. Moviegoers are largely inured to computer wizardry, and the new spectacles (superhero movies, for example) are marketed on the patina of the character development they furnish. Going back to the “big-wave” marketing (on behalf of a movie from Wolfgang “The Perfect Storm” Petersen, no less) seemed as much of a throwback as, say, a remake of a ’70s disaster flick. And, apparently, not everyone responds to nostalgia.

On the bright side, we can expect an embargo on nautical terminology for a while: water-logged, shipshape, sinking, etc. At least until that inevitable remake of Orca.

addCredit(“Poseidon: Claudette Barius”)