- Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen
- Written By: Mark Protosevich
- Release Date: May 12, 2006
- Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
- Cast: Josh Lucas, Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $160 million||Financed by: Warner Bros; Virtual Studios|
|Domestic Gross: $60,674,817||Overseas Gross: $121,000,000|
“What I probably should not have done is the film “Poseidon.” I was on a roll at that time. “In the Line of Fire,” “Outbreak,” “Air Force One,” “Perfect Storm,” “Troy” – I did all these films in a row, and each one was more successful than the one before. Five in a row. So they said, “Wolfgang can do anything. Just give him all the money, we’ll be fine.” But it wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it, because it just doesn’t work like that. At some point you fail.”
—Director Wolfgang Petersen
Poseidon was financed for $160 million by Warner Bros and the short lived private equity hedge fund Virtual Studios, which invested $528 million into six WB films. Poseidon was the first of two box office flops in 2006 for Virtual/WB, the other being The Good German. The head of Virtual Studios, Benjamin Waisbren was fired by Stark Investments, the hedge fund backing Virtual, after Poseidon posted an estimated $50 million loss for Virtual. Warner Bros also split the worldwide marketing costs with Virtual and before Virtual would see back any revenue, WB would have to recoup its P&A spend and receive a 12.5% distribution fee.
In what should have been a red flag not to move forward with this project was a poor script that had trouble landing bankable lead actors, but the studio had faith that director Wolfgang Petersen would deliver the requisite spectacle with access to better vfx than he had when he helmed the box office hit The Perfect Storm (2000) for Warners. Poseidon was dated for May 12, 2006 and was sandwiched between two other tentpoles — Mission: Impossible III opening the weekend prior and The Da Vinci Code opening the weekend after.
After an expensive marketing blitz, Poseidon was tracking poorly going into release and mixed to poor reviews did not help the muted buzz. It bowed against Just My Luck and pulled in a troubling $22,155,410 — placing #2 for the weekend led by Mission: Impossible III. Poseidon sank 58.4% in its second weekend to $9,224,340 and declined 38.7% in its third weekend to $5,650,026. The domestic run closed with a less than blockbuster $60,674,817.
Warner and Virtual were hoping the film would play well in the overseas market, but it produced mostly soft numbers for a film of this cost, grossing a total of $121 million. The worldwide cume was $181.6 million, leaving WB/Virtual with about $99.5M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would just about cover only their expensive worldwide P&A spend. Wolfgang Petersen regretted helming Poseidon and moved away from the studio system after its failure.