The Poseidon Adventure is a 1972 American action-adventure disaster film, directed by Ronald Neame, produced by Irwin Allen, and based on Paul Gallico's novel of the same name. The film features an ensemble cast, including five Academy Award winners: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Albertson, Shelley Winters, and Red Buttons. The cast also includes Carol Lynley, Stella Stevens, Roddy McDowall, Leslie Nielsen, and Pamela Sue Martin. It won a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects and an Academy Award for Best Original Song (for "The Song from the Poseidon Adventure" – aka "The Morning After"). Shelley Winters won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role. It also received nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama and for Best Original Score by John Williams.
The plot centers on the SS Poseidon, an aged luxury liner on her final voyage from New York City to Athens before being sent to the scrapyard. On New Year's Eve, she is overturned by a rogue wave. Passengers and crew are trapped inside, and a rebellious preacher attempts to lead a small group of survivors to safety.
Parts of the movie were filmed aboard the RMS Queen Mary, whose encounter with a rogue wave in 1942 inspired the book upon which the film is based.
Boxoffice magazine reported The Poseidon Adventure was the #1 Box Office Champ of 1973. By the end of 1974, it ranked among the six most successful features in film history, along with Gone with the Wind (1939), The Godfather (1972), Love Story (1970), Airport (1970), and The Sound of Music (1965). It is in the vein of other all-star disaster films of the 1970s such as Airport and later ones like Earthquake (1974) and The Towering Inferno (1974). The Poseidon Adventure was remade twice, first as a television special in 2005 with the same name, and as a theatrical release titled Poseidon in 2006. In 1998, several episodes of the daytime soap Sunset Beach entitled "Shockwave" revolved around an earthquake and tsunami in California and major parts of the episodes take place on a cruise ship, the S.S. Neptune that is capsized by the giant wave. The episode borrowed heavily from the plot line of "The Poseidon Adventure" and garnered huge audiences and spurring NBC to repeat it several weeks later in prime time.
A 1979 sequel, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure also based on a novel by Gallico, was released later with an equally star-studded cast, but was a box office and critical failure.
The SS Poseidon, an ocean liner slated for retirement and scrapping, makes her way across the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea from New York City to Athens. Despite protests from Captain Harrison, who fears for the ship's safety, the representative of her new owners, Mr. Linarcos, insists that she make full speed towards her destination to save money, preventing her from taking on additional ballast.