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Updated: December 26, 2021

Poseidon is a 2006 disaster film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, the third film adaptation of the novel The Poseidon Adventure written by Paul Gallico, and a loose remake of the 1972 film of the same name. It stars Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss. It was produced and distributed by Warner Bros. in association with Virtual Studios. The film had a simultaneous release in the IMAX format. It was released on May 12, 2006, and nominated at the 79th Academy Awards for Visual Effects.[1] Poseidon grossed $181,674,817 at the worldwide box office on a budget of $160,000,000. When released on DVD, it amassed $19,727,310 in sales, bringing its total gross to $201,402,127.


The MS Poseidon, a luxury cruise ship, is on a year-end transatlantic crossing to New York. Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) is with her fiancé, Christian (Mike Vogel), and they consider how to tell Jennifer's father, former New York City Mayor Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell), about their engagement. In the galley, stowaway Elena (Mía Maestro) searches for her friend, a waiter named Valentin (Freddy Rodriguez). Architect Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss) is making a phone call to his estranged lover. In the grand ballroom, Captain Michael Bradford (Andre Braugher) delivers a New Year's Eve speech before introducing the singer, Gloria (Fergie). Dylan (Josh Lucas), a professional gambler, and Robert play Texas Hold'em with Lucky Larry (Kevin Dillon). Jen, Christian and Elena are partying in the nightclub. Richard is with his friends, talking about his heartbreak. As Dylan walks with his winnings, he bumps into Connor (Jimmy Bennett). Maggie (Jacinda Barrett), Connor's mother, arrives and chats with Dylan.

On the bridge, officers see a 150-foot rogue wave coming towards them, while everyone celebrates the New Year countdown. On the promenade deck, Richard who is contemplating suicide, sees the wave and retreats inside. Though the crew on the bridge sounds warning alarms and turns hard to starboard to meet the wave head-on, the Poseidon turns too slowly. It is hit broad-side and capsizes. Passengers are swept overboard, fall to their deaths in overturned high-ceilinged areas or are crushed to death by falling debris. In the galley, crew are incinerated by flash fires caused by rupturing gas lines.

In the ballroom, Robert, Dylan, Richard and Maggie wake up, realizing that the ship is now upside down. Robert sees Connor on the piano, which is now on the ceiling. Robert and some officers rescue Connor. In the nightclub, Jennifer looks for Christian, who has been pinned by a fallen light. They and Elena are the only ones to avoid being killed by the combined dangers of the sprinklers activating and numerous broken wires and lights electrifying the water.

Captain Bradford reassures the passengers by telling them that a set of GPS beacons were launched during the collision and that help is on its way, therefore they should stay put. Some passengers hesitate. Dylan disagrees and concludes that the bow thrusters of the ship are the key to survival. He is joined by Robert, Richard, Connor, Maggie and Valentin. The group makes their way through the kitchens to a service elevator. Using a table to bridge the space across the shaft, the group pries open an opposing set of elevator doors. Everyone survives until the table drops as Richard is being pulled up by Dylan. The service elevator, severely damaged by the collision, begins to plummet towards them, and Richard is forced to shake the crewman off. Valentin falls down the elevator shaft and is killed immediately by the fall, and the elevator crashes down moments after Richard is pulled through the doors. The group manages to force the elevator doors shut just before a gas explosion set off by the falling elevator reaches them.

The opening shot of the film features a helicopter-style shot working its way around the ship. The entire opening was created using CGI effects (except for the inclusion of Josh Lucas, who was placed onto the ship deck during editing).

Meanwhile, in the nightclub, Elena and Jen rescue Christian, with help from Lucky Larry. Robert and Jennifer reunite with the other survivors. The group reaches the lobby and uses a damaged elevator as a bridge. As Lucky Larry takes his turn to cross, an engine smashes its way through the lobby floor above and kills him. Large amounts of leaking fuel follow through the opening in the floor and is ignited. Dylan finds a fire hose and jumps into the flaming water, making a zip line that the others use to cross.

In the ballroom, the windows at last give way, the room floods and the passengers, Captain and crew inside are drowned. As the surviving group tries to escape from the rising water, they go into an air vent which leads to the ballast tanks. Elena struggles to continue moving through the air vent due to her claustrophobia. Robert tries to smash the cover of the vent, but fails, and calls Connor to assist him in the hopes that Connor's smaller fingers will be able to undo the vent screws. Elena successfully gets inside the vent and offers her necklace to be used as a screwdriver. The cover opens and the group climbs into the ship's ballast tank, where they locate a hatch. Robert and Dylan realize that only great pressure can open the hatch, and they flood the chamber. The hatch opens, and they swim through to the next chamber. Elena's dress becomes caught as she swims through, and she hits her head on a sharp beam. Richard turns back to rescue her, followed by Robert, Dylan and Christian, and takes an unconscious Elena back, but she dies from her injury.

The wave slams into the Poseidon. All exterior shots of the ship were made using CGI effects. The capsizing scene was one of the more costly effects in the movie.

The group finds themselves in the galley and see the bow section is flooded, telling them the obvious: the Poseidon is sinking by the bow, and fast. While finding a new exit, an explosion in the engine room causes the bow to rise out of the water, and forces the stern down. All of the water in the bow rushes towards the stern, and the stern of the Poseidon sinks underwater. Robert, Christian, Jennifer and Richard go first, leaving Dylan, Maggie and Connor behind. Maggie and Dylan find Connor trapped. He is eventually saved by Dylan and the three reunite with the group. In the engine room, Richard opens a cover and the bow thrusters, still trying to turn the ship to starboard, begin blasting air into the room. Knowing that the control room for the propellers is now below water, Robert swims to turn them off. He finds the off switch broken, but manages to hit the reverse button instead just before he drowns. The propellers briefly stop, then begin turning the other way, and Dylan finds a nitrogen tank and throws it into the propellers. The ensuing explosion destroys the motors for one of the three bow thrusters. After climbing through the propeller tube, they jump overboard and into an inflatable raft. The survivors start rowing for their lives, as a wave is thrown up as the Poseidon rights herself again, pushing the survivors away from the ship.

The Poseidon is too badly damaged to remain afloat anymore, however, and, with her bow pointing high into the night sky, she sinks by the stern in the foaming waters as the handful of survivors looks on. Finding a flare gun in the raft, Dylan fires it, and they wait for rescue. Some time later, a group of helicopters finds the raft and moves in to pick up the survivors. Just before the credits roll, at least three ships are shown to be racing towards where the Poseidon sank.


Water floods into the ballroom through the imploding windows. The set of the ballroom for the Poseidon. As with the film The Poseidon Adventure, which based many of its sets on rooms aboard the RMS Queen Mary, the film's set designers drew inspiration for some of the spaces aboard the fictional Poseidon from rooms aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2, most notably in the Poseidon's ballroom, which is modeled on the main dining room of the Queen Mary 2.

On the sound stage at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California, separate sets for each main room were built — one right-side-up and the other upside down. The upside down ballroom set was built on top of a large water tank in the sound stage so that it could be filled with water and drained in a matter of hours. The interior and exterior shots of the ship rolling were constructed using computer-generated imagery.

The primary visual effects were completed by Industrial Light & Magic and Moving Picture Company. ILM used the most advanced version of mental ray to photo-realistically light and render the shots, and were responsible for all the exterior shots of the ship. The most complicated work featured the opening shot of the ship, where the camera tours the exterior of the ship. The shot lasts for two and a half minutes, and features one of the most complex digital models ever created at ILM. For water simulations, proprietary software was used, known as PhysBAM, which was created in collaboration with Stanford University.

Digital interior sets and water effects were handled by MPC, while liquid and gaseous effects were simulated using Scanline VFX proprietary software Flowline, while other shots were handled by CIS Hollywood, with water effects simulated using RealFlow.

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