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Poseidon sinks at US box office

Kurt Russell and Josh Lucas in Poseidon

Story by Jack Foley

DISASTER remake Poseidon took a dunking at the US box office over the May 12-14 weekend, earning just $20.3 million and failing to knock Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible 3 from the top spot.

The film, which cost an estimated $150-200 million (£84m) to produce, is thought to have been sunk by critics, who largely posted negative reviews.

Poseidon is a remake of the 1972 epic, The Poseidon Adventure, that’s directed by Wolfgang Petersen and stars Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss.

It famously tells the story of a luxury ocean liner that capsizes under a freak wave on New Year’s Eve.

But while critics have been quick to question the merits of the remake, Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros, said: “While we had hoped for a slightly stronger opening, it’s a little premature to assess the financial viability of the movie.”

He will undoubtedly point to the fact that the original film, starring Gene Hackman and the late Shelley Winters, was a box-office sensation that has since attained classic status despite more negative reviews.

What’s more, the film performed well in IMAX format, which accounted for seven per cent of its total gross having been shown on 62 IMAX screens – the UK release of the film, in June, will also be marked with IMAX screenings.

Among the leading publications to post bad reviews was USA Today, which wrote that “Poseidon is a sodden saga with a script that’s awash with cliches. It nearly drowns under the weight of its own tedium.”

While the Hollywood Reporter observed that “its intensity is strictly physical, the intended emotional impact submerged in a numbing onslaught of death, danger and derring-do as a bunch of mostly annoying, self-centred passengers fight their way to the surface”.

And Variety noted that while the remake “moves reasonably well, anyone with the faintest memory of its 1972 predecessor will wonder where most of the plot went”. It adds: “The dialogue is so stilted it can honestly be said the less the better.”

There were some words of praise, however, with Entertainment Weekly awarding it a B+ and describing it as “an excellently undemanding, swimmingly enjoyable remake”.

And the New York Times noting that “the chief virtue of Wolfgang Petersen’s reasonably well-executed remake is that it keeps the action moving”.

Both Poseidon and Mission Impossible 3 – which pulled in $24.5m (£13m) to take its two-week total to $84.6 (£44.8m) – are expected to drop steeply next week with the release of The Da Vinci Code and the animated Over the Hedge.

Read our review