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 adrenalin. 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.