Monday Morning Quarterback Part One

By BOP Staff

May 15, 2006

Some guy named Jordan used to have trouble with the Pistons, too.

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Poseidon is closer to Titanic the ship than Titanic the movie.

Kim Hollis: Poseidon, a Warner Bros. production with a reported negative cost in excess of $225 million, opened to $22.2 million. Is there any way to spin this as positive?

Tim Briody: I can't see it. Unless they call it "the number one movie about a sinking ship" or "the number one movie not starring Tom Cruise".

Michael Bentley: Or they'll bring out the old standby - "the number one new movie in America!" Or maybe they'll resort to pulling a quote from one of the two or three positive reviews. Plus, I hear David Manning is looking for work.

Kim Hollis: There's just really no way to call this anything but a disaster, is there?

Tim Briody: It sounds like a terrible pun, but that's pretty much the case.

David Mumpower: I don't think anybody died during the shoot. That's as close as WB is getting to a win here. Poseidon appears unlikely to earn above $60 million domestically. Given the budget and the shaky international appeal, this is a body blow.

Reagen Sulewski: This is the kind of film that causes Kinko's to show an uptick in their stock with all the resumes being printed.

David Meek: Two years ago, Catwoman was scheduled for an IMAX day-and-date release in the summer of 2004. As the release date approached, Warner Bros. anounced that they weren't going to meet special effects deadlines and pulled Catwoman from the IMAX schedule. That was was the official word: what we all believed was that the studio realized that they had a bomb on their hands, and determined that they needed to limit the damage. This opened a hole in the IMAX schedule, which was filled by
Sony with Spider-Man 2.

This time, Warner Bros. apparently lacked the foresight to make the same call with Poseidon, and unless the IMAX screenings pull significantly stronger than the theatrical run, the studio now has the potential to lose money on the IMAX release (looking exclusively at IMAX print and exhibition costs versus ticket sales).

Joel Corcoran: Well, that is one bit of good news. I'll add Warner Bros. to my list of resume recipients this week. If anyone in the HR department at Warner Bros. is reading this, I'm really sorry about your film. And I'm here to help with the next one.

Kim Hollis: Somehow within the last couple of weeks, WB was able to lower expectations to the degree that it came in slightly higher than what Variety predicted for the weekend. I guess the possibility exists that they knew this was a dog and didn't waste much time on the marketing of it.

David Mumpower: Unfortunately, they have been promoting it for the body of a year now. For whatever reason, they never were able to drum up any interest in it. I guess the tsunami money shot felt all too familiar since it was a copy of The Perfect Storm, Wolfgang Petersen's prior work.

Michael Bentley: I'm still quite shocked just how poorly it did. Just a couple weeks ago I thought this had the chance to be one of the breakout films of the year. It had very positive audience reactions when I saw the previews in the theater. I mean why the Day After Tomorrow and not this?

Kim Hollis: I still have to think that the fact that a TV remake came out a few months ago couldn't have helped matters any.

Tim Briody: And really, aren't weather disasters still not the best thing to make movies about right now?

A time machine and a preventive shelving of the project maybe?

Kim Hollis: Is there anything you feel Warner Bros. could have done differently to make Poseidon a $40 million opener?

Reagen Sulewski: George Clooney in place of Kurt Russell?

Tim Briody: I have to go with virtually any solid A-lister as well.

Kim Hollis: Promise the deaths of Tom Cruise and Lindsay Lohan?

David Mumpower: They could have bribed people to go see the movie. If you think about it, Poseidon probably spent $40 million or so on advertising. They could have just paid $40 million worth of people to go see the movie. Combined with the other $20 million, this would look like a blockbuster rather than a dud.

Joel Corcoran: A big name would've helped, as well as imbuing the film with more story than the TV version from a while ago. I think returning to the subplots, allegories, and darkness of the original would've helped a lot.

Reagen Sulewski: If you're spending $200 million anyway, you may as well bust out the pocket book for a name.

David Mumpower: I disagree with that line of thinking. Letting the special effects be the star is straight out of the Twister/The Day after Tomorrow handbook. In fact, I wonder how many people could name the star of Deep Impact without looking it up on IMDb.

Tim Briody: But isn't that virtually played out at this point? The bar is set rather high now.

Reagen Sulewski: Tea Leoni starred in Deep Impact! I feel it often does not work. I'm just saying that in hindsight, it really couldn't have hurt.

David Mumpower: That's why I mentioned the recent blueprint example, The Day after Tomorrow. Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal are not openers, but the film did almost $200 million. I think the key is what you touched on above. So soon after Hurricane Katrina, Poseidon fails to offer escapism.

Reagen Sulewski: Honestly, that connection never even entered my mind. There just didn't seem to be anything unique or dazzling about Poseidon. This is Deep Blue Sea without the sharks.

Kim Hollis: Same here, Reagen. I'm sitting here thinking, "What does weather have to do with anything?" I guess there's a wave that knocks them over but I was really thinking of it more in line as a tragic boat disaster than a bad weather disaster film. It never felt different or interesting, though. Even the money shot was a repetitive one straight out of The Perfect Storm.

Joel Corcoran: That is my thinking as well, Kim. This film was more Dante's Peak than Day After Tomorrow - just another disaster flick. The big disaster scene was very similar to A Perfect Storm, except a bigger boat gets cross-beam to a big wave instead of trying to crest it.

Tim Briody: It's blatantly obvious at this point, but the time where Hollywood can crap out a movie, and release it on over 3,000 screens during the first weekend in May to the last weekend in July and open it to $50 million are long over.

David Mumpower: Sorry, Roland Emmerich!


The box office alert system has been raised from blue to orange.

Kim Hollis: Box office had been up for seven straight weekends, but this is two straight big-budget openers that have disappointed. Is there cause for alarm?

Tim Briody: The streak is over? It's the end of the world! At least, for the time period until Da Vinci Code and X3 hit.

David Mumpower: John Hamann was a bit harsher on the subject than I am. We have experienced seven weeks worth of gains before this momentary downturn. The disappointment of Mission: Impossible III followed by the savagery of Poseidon is cause for concern, but I am not in a panic. I think that the summer campaign has several strong titles. These two were simply underwhelming.

Tim Briody: But, as I mentioned last week, the stakes are so high for those films now that it's scary.

Reagen Sulewski: The next two weeks are going to have films that open to more than the cumulative opening weekends of the first two weeks of May, so expect a lot of hastily rewritten doom and gloom columns next weekend.

Kim Hollis: The other thing to keep in mind, also, is that last summer stank. It should theoretically be easier for box office to be up.

Tim Briody: I said last year that 2005 couldn't possibly have kept up with the awesomeness of 2004.

Joel Corcoran: And it's not even summer yet. Hollywood may count MI:III as the beginning of the summer blockbuster season, but I think most people still think summer begins on Memorial Day Weekend, myself included. As long as Da Vinci Code gets into the ballpark of expectations, no one should start panicking ... unless you're on Tom Cruise's PR team.

David Mumpower: We will know a lot more after The Da Vinci Code's numbers are in. That is a film that skews heavily adult but should be absolutely huge. If its numbers are disappointing and we spend next Sunday talking about three consecutive disappointing tentpole titles, then we can prep the panic room for emergency usage.

Tim Briody: X-Men: The Last Stand is one hundred percent can't possibly miss and will be freakin' huge. Da Vinci Code by all rights should be, but there's still maybe that 10 percent chance that something goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Reagen Sulewski: Pope Benedict is working overtime on this one.

David Mumpower: My concern with X-Men: The Last Stand is its quality. There were already eight to ten core characters and five more are being added. That is way too many for a 90 minute film. I don't know how Brett Ratner can make that work.



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