News

'Poseidon' Capsizes, Cruise Clings to Top Spot

by Brandon Gray
Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss in Poseidon
May 15, 2006

Rough-sailing Mission: Impossible III cruised past a waterlogged Poseidon to top the weekend box office, and overall business sprang a leak after seven up weeks, dropping about three percent from the comparable frame last year

Recruiting $25 million at 4,059 theaters in its second outing, Mission: Impossible III slipped 48 percent, an okay hold by today's super-saturation standards and slightly better than the previous Missions. The total stands at $84.6 million, although the other Missions had drawn over 80 percent more spectators by the same point.

Docking at 3,555 sites, Poseidon pulled in $22.2 million in its maiden voyage, including around $1.4 million from 62 IMAX screens. Warner Bros.' $160 million remake of the 1972 blockbuster, The Poseidon Adventure, sold nearly as many tickets out of the gate as Volcano and Speed 2: Cruise Control among recent mega-budget, disaster-oriented pictures.

"We did outperform the tracking," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.' president of distribution. "But it's too early to assess the financial viability of the movie at this moment. I think cruising is an international activity, and [director] Wolfgang Petersen has had great success overseas. His last movie, Troy, did $133 million domestic and $364 million international. We're going to wait it out." Fellman reported that the studio's exit polling indicated that 51 percent of the audience was female and 52 percent was over 30 years old.

While the most successful disaster pictures of the 1970s, like Airport, The Towering Inferno and Poseidon Adventure, were localized thrillers set on man-made crafts or buildings, the biggest of the past decade (save for Titanic) concerned natural or alien phenomena threatening to destroy the world or a large portion of it (The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, Armageddon, etc.). The failures have superficially been more akin to the 1970s movies (e.g., Daylight, The Flight of the Phoenix).

Unlike its 1970s antecedents, Poseidon's marketing skipped establishing the characters and the setting, relying on the rogue tidal wave capsizing the titular cruise ship to get people's attention. Without that strong sense of setting and character, the promise of the ads effectively amounted to watching people drown, which is not the stuff of a broadly-appealing summer event. The appeal of disaster pictures isn't simply witnessing death and destruction; it's adventure in a realistic setting and people rising to the occasion.

The Poseidon brand may have been further tainted by the Hallmark television remake, The Poseidon Adventure, that disappointed last November on NBC, reportedly seen by less than 10 million viewers.

Lindsay Lohan in Just My Luck
With $5.7 million at 2,541 locations, Just My Luck broke lead actress Lindsay Lohan's winning streak—Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen was her previous low at $9.4 million. The fantastical romantic comedy's debut was in the league of recent Hilary Duff and Olsen twins vehicles. Distributor 20th Century Fox's research suggested that 80 percent of moviegoers were female and 70 percent were under 25.

Goal! The Dream Begins ended its first weekend with $1.9 million at 1,007 venues. Soccer movies have never been particularly successful in America, and this one will go down as the least popular among those released nationwide.

Among holdovers, RV, the market's most viable family alternative, racked up the best hold among wide releases for the second weekend in a row, easing 10 percent to $10 million. The Robin Williams comedy has traveled to $43.3 million in 17 days.

RELATED ARTICLES
• Scott Holleran - Disaster Movies of the 1970s
• Review - Poseidon
• Review - The Poseidon Adventure DVD
• Review - Goal! The Dream Begins
• 5/12/06 - Quantity Drives 2006 Box Office Past 2005
• 5/16/05 - 'Monster-in-Law' Claws to the Top (Same Weekend, Last Year)

RELATED CHARTS
• Disaster Pictures
• Soccer Pictures
• Weekend Box Office Results

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, May 14 and was revised on Monday, May 15 with actual grosses.



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