“Poseidon” setting sail at box office
By Martin A. Grove
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – German director Wolfgang
Petersen likes to get his feet wet.
Having already ventured underwater with “Das Boot” and
braved some killer waves with “The Perfect Storm,” he is now
preparing to release a remake of “The Poseidon Adventure.” The
1972 original, based on Paul Gallico’s novel, launched
Hollywood’s modern disaster epic genre when it was brought to
the screen by producer Irwin Allen and director Ronald Neame.
While the new movie, simply dubbed “Poseidon,” shares the
original’s jumping off point about a luxury ocean liner
capsizing on New Year’s Eve, its screenplay (by Mark
Protosevich) and characters are entirely new. Warner Bros. will
release the PG-13 action-adventure May 12. The cast includes
Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss.
Petersen, who last directed Brad Pitt in the 2004 epic
“Troy,” said he originally planned to produce “Poseidon”
because he was wary of getting behind the camera for another
maritime disaster picture. But as he got more involved in the
development process, the idea of directing what could be viewed
as the third installment in a trilogy became more appealing.
“This time it’s people like you and me — very normal
people — that get into this situation. Not trained
professionals like the submariners in ‘Das Boot’ or the
fishermen in ‘Perfect Storm,”‘ he said.
“It’s just people out there on that boat having a good time
celebrating New Year’s Eve and looking forward to the next year
– and BOOM! it happens. And now let’s see how not trained
professionals, but people like you and me react to this
situation. I felt that for an audience it could be just amazing
to constantly be confronted with the question of ‘What would I
do because I could be there?”‘
As he did with “The Perfect Storm,” Petersen shot most of
“Poseidon” on a soundstage on the Warner Bros. lot, where an
enormous tank had been built. A self-confessed “control freak,”
Petersen did not have to worry about the perils of shooting out
on the ocean, and was pleasantly surprised to finish the movie
a few million dollars under budget. The cost was about $160
million, he said.
Even with scenes that require five or six cameras and a
cast of hundreds, Petersen says his favorite part of the
filmmaking process is the actual shooting.
“It’s the highest adrenaline. It is long hours. It is
decisions you have to make on the set basically every other
minute. And it’s very stressful, but it’s very satisfying. When
you’ve had a good day of shooting and you come home, you feel
just sensational. You just feel so great,” he said.