Directed by Ronald Neame, 1972's "Poseidon Adventure" earned eight Oscar nominations and took in more than $84 million, an astounding total for the time. Some filmmakers would feel pressure to repeat that success, but not Wolfgang Petersen.
"If you watch it again, you can only watch it with a smile on your face in the sense of 'Oh my God it was '72 and what they did at that time,'" Petersen explains. "It has a charm because of that and it was quite campy and also the acting style was a bit melodramatic and the effects were, of course, in light of '72, fairly poor. I think nowadays if you do a film in 2006 about the Poseidon disaster then you try to avoid all those things and try to make it more for 2006 in the sense of as much reality as you can give it."
While many directors treat the water with wariness, Petersen has never had problems with the element. He earned a pair of Oscar nominations for "Das Boot," big box office for "The Perfect Storm" and with the theatrical release of "Poseidon," his trilogy is complete. It was that pedigree that helped Josh Lucas, who plays a heroic gambler in "Poseidon," overcome his reservations.
"From the very beginning, I was incredibly skeptical, because I felt like, 'Why remake a movie that people love?'" Lucas explains. "And [Petersen] was clear and all of us were clear from the outset that we did not want to remake that movie. And I think, you look at them, they are radically different films. There are a couple homages to the original and that's about it."
Gone are Gene Hackman's righteous priest, Shelley Winters' wailing former swimmer and all of the other favorite characters from "The Poseidon Adventure," not that co-star Kurt Russell misses them.
"I remember seeing the movie," reflects Russell, whose character is the former mayor of New York City. "I remember thinking -- what was her name? -- Pamela Sue Martin? She was kinda cute. Wearing a dress in the water? I liked that. I remember Gene Hackman screaming at somebody because... he was a priest, wasn't he?"
Russell trails off.
At 25, Mike Vogel was born years after the original was released and made no effort to rent the "Adventure."
"Same thing with 'Texas Chainsaw,' you know I didn't like to, I don't like to see what's happening beforehand," says Vogel, a remake veteran. "We're redoing something 30 years later where really the only thing that correlates is the fact that we're on a ship that flips upside-down and we've got to get out."
Russell doesn't figure that audiences will have any problems letting go of their "Poseidon Adventure" memories to embrace the computer-enhanced update.
"I must say I don't look at 'The Poseidon Adventure' as 'Gone With the Wind' or 'Casablanca,'" Russell says. "I look at it as a movie that was kind of one of the first of its genre and there's been a lot written about that. But that doesn't make it a classic, untouchable movie in my estimation. It didn't matter to me because what mattered to me was that Wolfgang Petersen was gonna do his movie."
Wolfgang Petersen's "Poseidon" hits theaters nationwide on Friday, May 12.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun