May 14, 2006

“Poseidon” sinks at North American box office

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The $160 million disaster film
"Poseidon" capsized on its maiden voyage in North America,
allowing Tom Cruise's struggling sequel "Mission: Impossible
III" to retain the weekend box office crown.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, "Poseidon"
opened at No. 2 after selling just $20.3 million worth of
tickets for the three days beginning May 12. The third
installment in Cruise's action franchise earned $24.5 million.

The soggy opening for German director Wolfgang Petersen's
costly remake of the 1972 epic "The Poseidon Adventure" was not
unexpected. Surveys of moviegoers in the weeks before its
release had indicated a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

"While we had hoped for a slightly stronger opening, it's a
little premature to assess the financial viability of the
movie," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic theatrical
distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures, a unit of Time Warner

"Poseidon" also earned $4.4 million after opening in six
Asian markets, No. 1 in four of them -- Thailand, Singapore,
Malaysia and the Philippines.

After 10 days, the total for "Mission: Impossible III"
stands at $84.6 million. Its drop from last weekend was a
modest 49 percent. Most big films usually drop between 50
percent and 60 percent in their second weekends.

The spy thriller also held up well overseas, where the
total rose to $129.2 million.


Those were some rare pieces of good news for Cruise, whose
bizarre antics in the past year were blamed for the movie's
underwhelming $47 million bow in North America last weekend.

The film is clearly trailing its predecessors, although
exact comparisons are difficult because they both opened on the
Wednesday before the busy Memorial Day holiday weekend at the
end of May, while the latest one opened on a regular Friday.
After 12 days, 1996's "Mission: Impossible" had earned $107.2
million, and the 2000 sequel $130.7 million.

Industry observers expect the new film to finish up
somewhere between $150 million and $185 million. The first one
made $181 million and the second one $215 million.

The movies were released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of
Viacom Inc.

It has been a rough start to the summer for effects-laden
Hollywood extravaganzas. But hopes are high for Sony Corp.'s
adaptation of the controversial Vatican bestseller "The Da
Vinci Code," which opens worldwide next weekend.

Also new this weekend was the Lindsay Lohan teen romance
"Just My Luck," which opened at No. 4 with a modest $5.5
million. Not surprisingly, 80 percent of the audience was
female and 70 percent aged under 25, said distributor Twentieth
Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.

The No. 3 slot went to former chart-topper "RV," which
earned $9.5 million in its third weekend -- a drop of just 14
percent, the lowest in the top 10. Sony's Robin Williams comedy
has earned $42.8 million to date, and is playing strongest in
the U.S. heartland and suburban markets, the studio said.