2010 Preview: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

by Brandon Gray
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

January 15, 2010

Release Date: Feb. 12
Studio: Fox
Genre: Fantasy
Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: Craig Titley (based off the novel by Rich Riordan)
Cast: Logan Lerman, Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Kevin McKidd, Catherine Keener, Steve Coogan, Jake Abel, Alexandra Daddario, Joe Pantoliano, Melina Kanakaredes, Serinda Swan, Chelan Simmons, Brandon T. Jackson
Studio Description: It's the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson's Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they're not happy: Zeus' lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy's mother. As Percy adapts to his newly discovered status as a demi-god (his father is Poseidon), he finds himself caught between the battling titans of Mt. Olympus. He and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy's mom, and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves.
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Analysis: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief is the umpteenth attempt by Hollywood to make lightning strike twice with an adaptation of a modern children's fantasy novel after the phenomenal success of Harry Potter. This is the first time, though, that the director that guided the first two Harry Potter movies, Chris Columbus, has been enlisted, and that connection has been trumpeted in Percy's advertising.

Several previous adaptations have seen a modicum of success, including Eragon, Bridge to Terabithia and The Spiderwick Chronicles, and some have been disappointments, such as Inkheart, The Golden Compass, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant and The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising. None have spawned franchises, which was clearly the intent behind most of them. That's also the hope for Percy Jackson, given its winded title.

Percy Jackson opens on President's Day weekend, just like Spiderwick Chronicles and Bridge to Terabithia did. Spiderwick debuted to $19 million on course to $71.2 million, while Bridge launched with $22.6 million on its way to $82.3 million. Percy Jackson has a good shot at replicating those mid-range successes, if not flying higher. Disregarding how popular its source material might be, the picture's marketing has sold it as an action-packed adventure with a similar storyline and tone as Harry Potter, only tapping into well-known Greek mythology instead of wizardry.

Similar Movies: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Clash of the Titans, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, Inkheart, Sky High, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Bridge to Terabithia, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Related Charts: Family—Children's Book Adaptation, Fantasy—Live Action, School—Prep, Boarding, Catholic

Related Stories:
'Paul Blart' Clamps Down 'Rise of Lycans' ('Inkheart' analysis)
'Narnia' Retreats with Sequel
'Jumper' Teleports to the Top ('Spiderwick Chronicles' analysis)
'Golden Compass' Doesn't Get the Lead Out
'Heartbreak Kid' Gets Hurt, 'Game Plan' Tops Again ('Seeker' analysis)
'Ghost Rider' Blazes in Debut ('Bridge to Terabithia' analysis)
'Pursuit' Overtakes 'Eragon,' 'Web'
'Narnian' Delight: Passion of the 'Lion' Pays
Second 'Potter' Potent with $88M Weekend

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