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Snakes on The Net Fail to Put Butts in the Seats 580

Posted by Zonk
from the snacks-on-the-brain dept.
Lev13than writes "An article in The Globe & Mail discusses the disappointing performance of Snakes on a Plane. Despite extensive Internet hype and unprecedented audience involvement in the movie's development, it barely slithered into first place with a meager $13.8M weekend box office. 'The Internet stuff was just fun that people were having with it, but I don't think that necessarily meant that those people wanted to see the movie... those who had made that decision based their decision more on the traditional marketing than on all this Internet buzz.' Was all of the hype about blogger power just that — hype?"
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Snakes on The Net Fail to Put Butts in the Seats

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  • by dracocat (554744) * on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:35PM (#15958097)
    There is one major possibility that everybody is forgetting.

    That is, that this movie could have quite possibly ended dead last without the Internet hype. I think the only reason they made anything at all was because of the hype.
    • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Megaweapon (25185) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#15958131) Homepage
      This movie debut - 10 years ago = Complete and utter bust. The money it made was due to the Internet and very little else. If anything it was a wakeup call to Hollywood in how much money can be made by "marketing" to the appropriate audience (although of course with SoaP it was mostly accidental ;)
      • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:08PM (#15958391)
        >This movie debut - 10 years ago = Complete and utter bust.

        Naww. There was considerable non-blog based hype. The wacky trailers, word of mouth, etc. I think this movie would have done just as well without the so called internet hype. There's a great deal of over-estimation of the number and influence levels of 'internet people.' Seriously. If all the net-based hype refelected reality then:

        Bill Gates would be serving his fourth year in prison.
        John Kerry would be president.
        Richard Stallman would be on television.
        Churches would fold up because of lack of interest.
        Anime would be everywhere.
        Star Trek would have its own cable channel. Or two.

        etc. The net isn't reality. Now Hollywood knows this.
        • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:15PM (#15958450)
          Horses and dogs would trust humans a LOT less
        • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ethan Allison (904983) * <slashdot@neonstream.us> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:24PM (#15958524) Homepage
          That's Slashdot, not the internet.
        • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

          by madprogrammer (214633) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:29PM (#15958568)
          The difference in this case is that without all the internet hype, the traditional marketing wouldn't have been so wacky. It would have been more plain vanilla marketing hype for a cheesy action movie.

          Samuel L. Jackson saw this from the beginning - the name made a big difference to the hype surrounding the movie. The name attracted attention, along with SLJ himself, and the internet hype built out of that. From there came the wacky trailers, etc.

          I definitely think this movie would have been a bust without the internet hype, because everyone I talked to in line at the "Audience Participation Advance Screening" I went to (at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver) was there because of the internet hype.

          How many cheesy action movies that come out these days have people dressing up on opening night and bringing props (rubber AND real snakes, toy planes)?

          Dream on man... without the internet, max $5mil gross opening weekend for that POS* film.

          *POS, but I immensely enjoyed it!
        • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Funny)

          by genner (694963) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:45PM (#15958677)
          Bill Gates would be serving his fourth year in prison.
          The legal sysetm tried hard but garbage trucks full of money trump the internet

          John Kerry would be president.
          Many geeks hate all politicians equally.

          Richard Stallman would be on television.
          Give it time. It will happen.

          Churches would fold up because of lack of interest.
          My Level 41 Paladin disagrees with you.

          Anime would be everywhere.
          Give it time. There's a heck of a lot more of it then there was.

          Star Trek would have its own cable channel. Or two.
          And leave out SG-1 and Farscape? It's more likely we'll get a Sci-Fi channel. OH WAIT WE HAVE THAT!

        • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Informative)

          by Fordiman (689627) <fordiman@gmGIRAF ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @06:14PM (#15958861) Homepage Journal
          Funny. I didn't see any of the commercials. I just kinda skipped over them.

          I knew about the film from Overcompensating.
        • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

          by westlake (615356) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @06:37PM (#15958989)
          There's a great deal of over-estimation of the number and influence levels of 'internet people.' Seriously. If all the net-based hype refelected reality then: Bill Gates would be serving his fourth year in prison. John Kerry would be president. Richard Stallman would be on television. Churches would fold up because of lack of interest. Anime would be everywhere. Star Trek would have its own cable channel. Or two. etc. The net isn't reality. Now Hollywood knows this.

          We are ten years past the time when "Internet Person" could be defined by the interests and obsessions of the Geek.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by niktemadur (793971)
        The money it made was due to the Internet and very little else.

        Exactly. This is the equivalent of, say, "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" debuting at Number One back in its' day. Or "Frogs". One favorable thing about "Snakes On A Plane" (SOAP?!!) is that it's a B-movie through and through, but with A-movie values. The extreme example of this is "Independence Day".

        Another thing is that a movie like SOAP was marketed towards internet geeks, as opposed to film geeks (like myself), who'd much rather spend 9 bu
    • by RingDev (879105)
      So true. If it weren't for the marketing (which was hardly viral) this movie would have been straight to DVD selling for $5.99 in the big bucket at Wallmart.

      -Rick
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) *

      That is, that this movie could have quite possibly ended dead last without the Internet hype. I think the only reason they made anything at all was because of the hype.

      Quite a possibility. Keep in mind that late July and August are usually extremely slow months for films, which is why you don't see hopeful blockbusters come out at this time.

      These are the slow, lazy summer days for a casual film you may or may not care to see, which may or may not do anything for you. This, IMHO is the perfect time for

    • by eln (21727) * on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:41PM (#15958152) Homepage
      This thing made over $15 million, recouping just over half of its $30 million budget in one weekend. I think New Line was expecting the hype to make this the highest grossing film of all time or something, and are therefore disappointed that they "only" got $15 million.

      There are 2 reasons this film was not a total flop:
      1.) Internet hype
      2.) Samuel L. Jackson.

      The Samuel L. Jackson point is important because without an actor so popular and easily parodied on the Internet, this movie would never have generated the hype that it did.

      This film will be profitable, which is a lot more than they can say about a lot of the movies they make. New Line needs to accept this windfall and quit bitching about it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cylix (55374)
      Or perhaps my theory...

      The hype was all fabricated!

      I started noticing a few of the snakes/plane parodies, but I actually didn't see one that I felt was any good. For something that wasn't too terribly funny I did wonder why I was seeing the more then normal chatter.

      In any event, I'm not passing around mass paranoia stories, but my gut reaction was this was fabricated crap. After the initial reaction... I moved on to other "funny" crap.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eln (21727) *
        The Hamster Dance wasn't all that funny either, but that was the biggest thing on the Internet for months.

        Internet fads don't follow any sort of logic. Something completely inane can flood the Internet for months, while several genuinely funny things are completely ignored. It's like the world's largest junior high school.

    • August 16th (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:02PM (#15958341) Homepage
      I think they could have made more of the 'insensitivity' angle. They should have marketed it with: if you do not go and see Snakes on a Plane, then the terrorists have already won. It would also have helped to bring forward the release date to August 16th, planned date for the liquid explosive attacks on transatlantic jets.

      It would be handy if the movie included some suspicious bearded character on the plane who in the end turns out to save it Wesley-Crusher style. I haven't yet seen the film, so for all I know perhaps it does.
  • Why Mine Wasn't (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:35PM (#15958099) Homepage Journal

    Years ago there was the viral marketing about The Blair Witch Project. I wondered what all the buzz was about and saw it. To me it was money down the drain. I didn't care for it and became a bit cynical about film pushed this way. Now if someone I knew who had similar tastes and saw a film and liked it, which I used to do, I'd give it a try.

    Years ago I used to read the Detroit Free Press, which had a little grid in the back, which summarised what various critics thought of films. I learned which leaned most often my way and followed their advice. Most often we were in sync. Now I just chance it, mostly on trailers, of indie fliks. Hollywood stuff you usually get all the good bits and the whole plot in trailers.

    Upon Scott Kurtz' endorsement I saw Little Miss Sunshine, which is quite the little gem.

    • Re:Why Mine Wasn't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:26PM (#15958538) Homepage
      Years ago there was the viral marketing about The Blair Witch Project. I wondered what all the buzz was about and saw it. To me it was money down the drain. I didn't care for it and became a bit cynical about film pushed this way. Now if someone I knew who had similar tastes and saw a film and liked it, which I used to do, I'd give it a try.

      Well I actually liked Blair Witch a lot, it being one of the only horror movies to ever instill real emotions of fear in me (having been lost in the woods before helped me get into the movie though). Yet I'm still cynical of any attempts to do "viral" marketing or anything of the sort. The reason is because a movie is marketed that way, or any other way, and some other exec says "Huh, they used this marketing technique, and their movie was a success. We should use this technique for our movie, and we will also be successfull." Note the lack of any consideration for the quality of the movies. To them, "grassroots" is just a phenomenon to be exploited for their own benefit. So I never trust them.

      Now like you say sometimes I do find people whose opinions I trust. In this sense, I think they made a big mistake by not having pre-screenings for the press. If I had heard the reviews before hand -- which basically say that given B-movie expectations, the film exceeds them -- I may have been more likely to see the movie on opening weekend. "Snakes on a Plane" with Samuel Jackson sounds awesome, but am I going to trust those hollywood fuckers with my $8 based on a name and a star? If pre-release internet buzz had been matched with critical acclaim, then maybe that buzz would have turned into ticket sales like they hoped.

      But really this article should be titled "Movie producers shocked to discover that Internet still isn't replacement for real world".
  • There are motherF***in' snakes on the motherf***in' Plane!

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:36PM (#15958103)
    Half of the Slashdot crowd will just download the flick and wonder why the producers are so disappointed in the film's performance at the box office.

    Then they will post about the virtues of free software... knowing full well that they really mean beer.

    • by ForumTroll (900233) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:43PM (#15958168)
      Piracy must be the answer! It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the quality of the film...

      I wouldn't watch that crap if you paid me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by also-rr (980579)
      Half of the Slashdot crowd will just download the flick and wonder why the producers are so disappointed in the film's performance at the box office.

      Then they will post about the virtues of free software... knowing full well that they really mean beer.


      These people argue that copying from people who give nothing away, refuse to allow derivatives and generally try to lock up art with DRM and copyright extensions to avoid it entering the commons is in no way equal to going against the wishes of people who
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SeaFox (739806)
      Half of the Slashdot crowd will just download the flick and wonder why the producers are so disappointed in the film's performance at the box office.

      Remember, money isn't the only thing with value.
      I don't think this film justifies the amount of my bandwidth quota it would use to download it.
  • Why yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by keesh (202812) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:36PM (#15958108) Homepage
    It only came first. What a disappointment. I'd much rather it had come zeroth, that would have been a much better indication of success.
  • What... (Score:5, Funny)

    by andrewd18 (989408) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:37PM (#15958116)
    What, they thought we were serious? *blink*
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:38PM (#15958118) Homepage Journal
    all of those bloggers making SoaP jokes? They were laughing at, not with the marketroids and hollywood in general. It was derision, nothing else.

    I know that I don't generally shell out cash for things I'm derisive of, that's for sure.
    • by OverlordQ (264228) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:46PM (#15958205) Journal
      all of those bloggers making SoaP jokes? They were laughing at, not with the marketroids and hollywood in general. It was derision, nothing else.

      Maybe you were laughing *at* them, but I'm sure there were still alot laughing *with* them. The people laughing at them were people who took this movie to seriously. The people who laugh with them realized that they weren't trying to make a Ben Hur Epic Movie of Vast Proportions and instead were making something you could laugh to.
    • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:20PM (#15958496)

      Bingo! I have to believe 99% of all the people who passed around the "Snakes on a Plane" meme did so out of a "My-God-this-is too-stupid-even-for-Hollywood" mindset. Does it really surprise anyone that such publicity might not result in blockbuster sales?

      I know these Hollywood marketing types are trained to believe that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but this is the second article I've read wondering why the Internet buzz didn't translate into 3. Profit! without either even mentioning the fact that all the hype was based on the absurdity of the film's name.

      "No, no, this just proves the failure of the Internet as a marketing tool." Hmmm...then again, maybe it's a good thing for them to draw that conclusion, and keep these clueless asshats focused elsewhere.

  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:38PM (#15958126)
    It was the highest grossing movie this weekend, right? First place? What were they hoping for? Zeroth place? I mean really. The 'buzz' was that it was basically a stupid movie with no plot. And it still made it to the top. And they complain? Man, talk about a sore winner.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      It was the highest grossing movie this weekend, right? First place? What were they hoping for? Zeroth place? I mean really

      They were hoping that the movie would make back the 30 million it took to produce it on opening weekend. Instead they only make a measly 13.8 million. For comparisons sake, Clerks II, a movie of limited appeal that had almost no advertising budget made 10 million on its opening weekend (and only cost about 5 million to produce).

      The problem here isn't that the movie only made 13.8 milli
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by LordKronos (470910)
        The problem here isn't that the movie only made 13.8 million, the problem is that it cost 30 million to produce it.

        Yeah. It's too bad that movies don't get more than a single weekend in the box office to earn back their money.
  • If you have a bad plot idea usally leads no real profit even when driven by a huge marketing department.
  • Despite the hype (Score:4, Insightful)

    by night_flyer (453866) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#15958136) Homepage
    with all the bombs lately, maybe they are waiting for word of mouth to see if it is ANY GOOD?
  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#15958138) Homepage
    Yeah.. it was the *internet* that cause Snakes on a Plane to Fail..

    I assure you that's the angle the producers who are in fear of losing their jobs are pitching right now.
  • by TheAngryMob (49125) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:40PM (#15958141) Homepage
    While I'm interested in seeing the film, my wife and I just can't swallow the wretched ticket prices when, for cost of two admissions, we can OWN THE DVD. Not rent, own. And that's not even factoring in gas or babysitting costs.

    Add to that the cost of consessions and the sheer rudeness of humanity (talking to your neighbor, talking on your cellphone, text messaging, kicking the back of my chair) I'm just not interested in going to see a film on the big screen.

    So, am I going to shell out big bucks to watch commercials, listen to other people's conversations, and then sit through a B-grade flick? Hell no.
    • by AsnFkr (545033) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:46PM (#15958202) Homepage Journal
      The theater experience isn't dead, you're just old. Trust me, I'm old too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheAngryMob (49125)
        I fail to see why this is an age issue?

        I remember being irritated with rude people in the theater when I was a teen. Of course back then, polite people outnumbered the rude ones.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by elrous0 (869638) *
          Yeah, it's these damn kids--with their comic books and "rock and roll"!! They're nothing but a bunch of rude damn deliquents!! When I was a teenager we were well-behaved, polite, and never threw popcorn or made noise at the theater. Or, at least, that's how I choose to remember it.

          -Eric

    • by DreadPiratePizz (803402) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:02PM (#15958339)
      You must not have seen this movie in theatres. It was an incredible experience. The entire audience was into it, and this movie will be lost if you do not see it with a good audience. This is not something that can be duplicated anywhere else. I was in a theatre full of people, ready to see snakes on a motherfucking plane, and bringing that energy with them. Watching this alone on DVD would NOT be the same. At all.
    • by generic-man (33649) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:07PM (#15958376) Homepage Journal
      SoaP was worth seeing on opening night at a giant beautiful theater [cinerama.com] specifically for the "sheer rudeness of humanity." It was worth $10 to have 800+ other people laughing and cheering through all of the deliciously awful moments of the movie.

      Some of the early reviews compared SoaP to a 2000s-era "Rocky Horror Picture Show" for the level of audience participation involved. If you rented RHPS from Netflix and watched it at home, you wouldn't get the same experience as watching it at a theater full of eclectic movie fans.
  • well yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <<circletimessquare> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:40PM (#15958143) Homepage Journal
    when you saw a dancing baby, did you want a baby?

    when some turkish dude said "i kiss you!" did you want to kiss him?

    did watching the hamster dance make you want to buy a hamster?

    when cats said all our base are belong to him, did you want to play zerowing?

    when star wars kid valiantly fought with canadian air, did you want to buy a light sabre?

    did watching jibjab's "this land is our land" change your vote?

    no, to all of that

    so why would laughing at snakes on a plane make you want to go to the movies?

    dumb internet fads are, guess what, nothing but dumb internet fads

    they don't translate into anything, excep time wasted at work and school
  • by elucido (870205) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:40PM (#15958144)
    Everyone know about this movie. The problem is, just because everyone knows about it and it's hyped, does not mean it's going to be a good movie. It's the mixed reviews it got from people who saw it. If you ask your friend "what did you think of this most hyped movie", and they say "well it was funny but not really scary". It's not going to be an impression like "hey thats the best movie I've seen all year!".
  • Of course, it was the Pirates [imdb.com]

    Damn P2P users plunder our movie profits!!
  • by olddotter (638430) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:41PM (#15958155) Homepage
    The internet is a buzz for months with people making jokes about how stupid this movie is going to be, and they are suprised its not the next Titanic?!

    I given what people expected $13M isn't too bad. It did get first spot, if barely. It will probably still gross more than "A Prairie Home Companion".

    I haven't seen it, but I have heard it is better than expected!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bourbonium (454366)
      Trust Samuel L. Jackson. He knows how to pick a script (except for the awful SHAFT re-make a few years ago). I saw SoaP last weekend with my wife (who hates horror movies) and we had a blast. It's lots of fun and the entire theater was in on the joke. You may be surprised at how much fun you can have at a theater when the audience is heavily involved in the action. Think Rocky Horror Picture Show. SoaP may not yet achieve that level of cult success, but the target audience is in on it. My high school
  • I should think they should be happy enough with what they got. SoaP as the number one movie? That's pretty damn good for what should have been a crappy B-movie going straight, as one poster put it, to the bargin bin at Wal-Mart.
  • Even though we all like to think we are some huge and massive force that keep entire industries afloat, we aren't. The myth of the "Harcore Gamer" is just as much bullshit as "Blogger/Internet Power." Regular Joe's make up the bulk of the U.S. not the average /. reader, just because we can cause a web server to slow down for an hour or get a new Super Mario game to sell 1 million copies in 2 weeks is nothing significant... but we like to think so and pat ourselves on the back regularly while we revel in our
  • Poof! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigattichouse (527527) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:43PM (#15958172) Homepage
    Its amazing how the internet makes you forget about the real, actual world around you... how things that seem amazingly omnipresent really don't exist anywhere else. Its sort of its own little fantasy world, run by hyperactive squirrels on crack.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jb.hl.com (782137)
      Its sort of its own little fantasy world, run by hyperactive squirrels on crack.

      You read 4chan too?
  • "Was all of the hype about blogger power just that -- hype?"

    Yes. That's the point isn't it, those bloggers are at home in their parents basements, not out on dates seeing movies.

    News flash, couch potatos underrepresented at the Boston marathon...

    Maybe if there were some mother******* snakes in the mother******* basements?

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:44PM (#15958181)
    Everyone remember the geek buzz over "Serenity" and how it was going to revive the Firefly franchise and prove how much power internet and geek buzz can provide? Then it absolutely DIED at the box office.

    We geeks tend to forget that we are in the TINY MINORITY of the population. Joe Sixpack doesn't hang out on /. and internet fan boards.

    -Eric

  • I would say a good precident is Serenity, the movie - that also had a lot of internet hype put out by some real fans (I think most of the pre SOAP buzz was from real people though the studio obviosuly encouraged it).

    Both movies stalled out of the gate, almost to the same amount. Personally I was a lot sadder to see Serenity do poorly, but I can understand how someone who was really into the whole SOAP thing be dissapointed as well.

    There was a lot more depth to Serenity though... not that I have seen SOP t
  • The Internet stuff was just fun that people were having with it, but I don't think that necessarily meant that those people wanted to see the movie... those who had made that decision based their decision more on the traditional marketing than on all this Internet buzz.' Was all of the hype about blogger power just that -- hype?

    Not at all. Bloggers have the ability to reach a massive audience, and many actually do. However, it wouldn't surprise me if the average blog reader were inclined to make more info
  • by mbourgon (186257) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:46PM (#15958195) Homepage
    Tracking said it would do roughly what it did - average for a mid-August-horror-release. It's simply that we all thought it would do well, because everyone we know knew about it. Watch the Daily Show's interview - everyone there probably went to see it. Guess what - they were the demographic anyhow. I think the name may have alienated some viewers, but it wouldn't have gotten people like me - I hate horror films, I went solely to participate. It was gorier than I would have liked, but a fun time was had by all 10 of us in the theater.

    I think this counts as the "Howard Dean effect". Prior to one of the primaries, everyone thought he'd come in first, because he had this huge internet buzz. Turns out it didn't matter. Even if it's all of us techno-geeks, we're still a small percentage of the populace.
  • I'm fully admitting how out of the loop I am here, but I had no idea that there was any Internet buzz about SoaP until the press started complaining that "all the Internet buzz leading up to the film had little effect on ticket sales".

    What Internet buzz? There may have been a ton of buzz out there from a handful of people, but whatever marketing/advertising agency that was in charge of making the rest of the world aware of this buzz did a terrible job of getting that message out there.

    This is taken in stark
  • In any forum, cannot turn a dud into a blockbuster. Also, I wonder what would have happened if the movie had been available on something like Google Video or Youtube to watch at the time of release. I'm more likely to fork out the cash to watch "Snakes on a Plane" if I could watch it comfortably from my own home right after seeing an ad on the internet. For Star Wars, I'm willing to go to the theater, but "Snakes on the Plane" is the kind of movie you see on dvd.
  • My Gut Hurts (Score:2, Informative)

    Did any of you actually see the movie?
    It was hilarious!

    I don't like scary movies and I really don't like snakes. A friend dragged me to this movie and I don't know the last time I has such an emotional roller coaster. I was scared (the surprised kind) but laughing the entire film.

    I was physically hurting when I got out.
    Also SoaP is filled with great one liners.

    I can't wait to see Snakes on a Plane on a Plane (in flight movie). That will be the day!
    Joel
  • Was all of the hype about blogger power just that -- hype?

    Yes.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:49PM (#15958218) Homepage
    I think this is how the marketers think:
    We need to advertise this movie. What is our target audience? Young males 16-29... What are they doing? They're blogging! Quick, let's put up a bunch of fake blog sites, seed existing blogs with references, and our target demographic will flock to see this movie.

    I dunno about everyone else, but the blog postings touting the movie always seemed like those TV commercials that started using "hip hop" and "street" phrases to sell toothpaste ("It's the bomb! Bling bling! Off the chain!") long after the phrases have become old (and by old I mean that I, the least hip, most geriatric bastard on the face of the earth, finally understands what they mean because I Googled for the phrases and found a Wiki). It's like FoxTV saying "The arrest *went down* on Main St and Lincoln"...
  • by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro@NosPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:49PM (#15958221) Homepage Journal
    I don't think the problem was over-hyper. Yes, SoaP got attention on a lot of big websites like Fark and Digg, each with a readership numbering a few hundered thousand. But how many people actually stated that they wanted to see this movie?

    Not nearly as many as New Line Cinema was guessing, I bet. Even so, SoaP was all the rage for a few months, so it's easy to get into the notion that it was going to be a smashing hit.

    But one needs to realize that what you generally see/hear on the Internet isn't necessarily representative of the populace in general. Back in 2004, I was sure that Kerry was going to take the Presidential slot by quite a bit, despite being a Bush supporter (yes, I've realized my mistakes since then). Then Bush barely beat out Kerry, instead.

    So what happened, both then and now? A few things.

    First, the Internet is a great thing that covers the entire globe. This means that you're going to get opinions from a lot of places whose opinion, frankly, doesn't really matter overall. (Not that they shouldn't state their opinion, but someone from Russia talking about who they would vote for in the American primaries doesn't make a lick of difference.) This residual noise is going to confound the actual outcome to a point.

    Second, turn out. While a lot of people say they'll go out and vote for Kerry, or go out and see the movie, that doesn't mean they'll actually do it. In this instance, people on Fark set up SoaP "Parties" for people to get together, drink a bit, then go laugh at the movie. Many of these requested RSVPs, and a lot of the people who hosted such parties said that a good portion of the RSVPs didn't show up.

    Third, anonymity and 'fitting in'. People can claim on the internet to do things or to have done things that they will never or have never done. A Bush supporter that is an active member of a website that's predominantly anti-Bush is more likely to make anti-Bush comments so s/he won't be ridiculed. Similarly, someone might say that they are interested in SoaP so they can be part of the online group, but really don't give a damn.

    It's the very reason that Slashdot has their little blurb above all polls:
    This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
    The internet is wildly inaccurate except under the most precise of circumstances and settings, and even then the numbers can be flubbed.

    At least this means that we (hopefully) won't see a lot of studios trying to build internet hype, when all the internet hype was created entirely by fans.
  • SoaP cost $30 million to make. They'll make all their money back in the US box office (or close to it). Then there's the foreign box office (where this may not be remotely hot, but could bring in some cash). Then second-run movies, like college campuses, etc. I work at a college theater (head of ushering), and I'm expecting big crowds to Snakes when we get it (mid-October). That's a lot more money. Lastly, DVDs and DVD rentals. It'll make it's backers a lot of money. It'll have a better return on investment than a lot of other BIG MOVIE blockbusters.
  • by mrraven (129238) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @04:59PM (#15958308)
    Bloggers can make a difference in a world, for example the Daily Koss and Moveon most certainly helped to sink neo-con Dem Lieberman in Connecticut and good riddance. That's good and important, really much more important than an overly hyped movie not grossing the tens of millions it didn't deserve. Hint to movie producers, less mindless crap please. When was the last time we had an Alfred Hitchcock quality mainstream movie that was both entertaining and mentally challenging? The first Matrix movie? Maybe, and even that was more pretentious pseudo philosophy than art.
  • i'm tired (Score:4, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:00PM (#15958314)
    I'm tired of these motherfucking articles about motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane!
  • by Naum (166466) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:12PM (#15958428) Homepage Journal
    Live Rattlesnakes Released In 'Snakes On A Plane' Theater [local6.com]
    Two live diamondback rattlesnakes were released in an Arizona movie theater during a showing of the new film "Snakes on a Plane," according to Local 6 News. Authorities said pranksters released the young venomous rattlesnakes in a dark theater at the AMC Desert Ridge near Tatum and Loop 101 in Phoenix. The two snakes caused a panic in the dark theater, according to the report. "That to me is very scary," herpetological association representative Tom Whiting said. "I would hate to be watching a movie about snakes and have a rattlesnake bite me." Wranglers were called to collect the snakes, the report said. No one was injured in the incident and, so far, the culprits have not been caught. Officials believe the snakes were smuggled into the theater in backpacks. "This thing is under someone's chair and they go to sit and they just push your foot in the air and startle it -- obviously all they got to do is startle this thing," Phoenix Herpetological Society spokesman Daniel Marchand said. "It's dark. They can't see you, you know that well. If it's scared, boom it strikes." The snakes were released into the desert.
  • by Maul (83993) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:18PM (#15958482) Journal
    After all of the jokes, stupid references, and whatnot about this movie... I'd really like to see it just to see exactly how ridiculous the movie is. I expect to see a cheesy plot, snakes on a plane, and Samuel L. Jackson dropping one-liners with the F-word in it.

    The problem is that the theater is charging $9 a pop, making a night out at the movies for two an $18 affair, not counting the consession stand. Do I really want to pay for a campy movie that I'll be able to rent for $2 when it hits DVD in a few months?
  • by Bobtree (105901) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:21PM (#15958502)
    I thought the buzz WAS the product.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:23PM (#15958522) Journal
    I surf the web plenty. I hang out on /. and boingboing and read the headlines on news.google.com. I have my own blog and I dip into the web sites of the major news outlets. Occasionally I'll check what's popular on youtube. I even listen to the radio and read billboards on the way to work. Oh...and I work in the movie business and hear gossip.

    I don't remember seeing any of this 'hype' stuff. I remember seeing a couple of mentions on the web, and then a few days before release I saw some news stories claiming that there was lots of hype - probably fewer than I'd expect for a major summer movie release. So someone, please tell me before I miss the next lot of hype. Where do I see this 'hype' stuff? Is there a 'hype' web site? Is there a mailing list I need to subscribe to? Without it I just feel like I'm not connecting with therest of society.

  • by 3Suns (250606) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:35PM (#15958608) Homepage
    What people (including all the analysts who were saying that the internet hype would catapult this movie to 100mil territory) are forgetting, is that internet memes are a double-edged sword. The link-of-the-week is just that... exciting for a short period, kinda fun for about a week after it peaks, and then quickly grows stale. SoaP followed the same rules and trendes as other internet mega-memes like All Your Base etc. The jokes are lame by now, and all the appreciation they garner is an eye roll.

    If the movie had actually been released about 3 weeks ago when the meme was still fresh, I would expect that the internet effect would have been significantly greater.
  • Anecdotal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:45PM (#15958674)
    'The Internet stuff was just fun that people were having with it, but I don't think that necessarily meant that those people wanted to see the movie... those who had made that decision based their decision more on the traditional marketing than on all this Internet buzz.'


    I just wanted to chime in with my own anecdotal experience about this movie. When the first wave of hype hit me, it was over the title. "Snakes on a Plane? How stupid is that? Samuel L. Jackson is going to be on a plane with snakes. Gee, that sounds great. Bleh." I remember there was even a massive debate as to whether or not this movie actually existed. Everybody thought it was so stupid sounding that it couldn't possibly be a real movie.

    For MONTHS, this movie's been flying past my screen as just a big joke. It wasn't until the last two weeks or so that the good news finally started arriving. People went to the theater, watched it, and liked it. I was NOT going to see this movie until a couple of my friends went and said "It was fun in a not-to-be-taken-too-seriously-way". In other words, the 'negative hype' prevented me from seeing it, word of mouth is bringing me back to it. It's a pity, really. The 'get a call from Samuel L. Jackson' bit was pretty cute, but hardly enough to make me suddenly interested in the movie. Snakes... on a plane. BFD. Make it a parody, and you've got my attention.

    From where I sit, the movie's lack of phenomenal success wasn't hindered by internet hype. I agree with some of the other sentiment that said "actually, it probably REACHED its mediochre standing because of the hype...". That is, of course, my own personal experience.
  • by sielwolf (246764) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @05:47PM (#15958691) Homepage Journal
    The problem with the SOAP fan community was that it was unlike any other fan community that has ever existed and that is the inherent irreverence for the source material. Even cult movies like Rocky Horror or Plan 9 from Outer Space hinge on the fact that the source material is sacrosanct. Sure, people dress up and people show canned responses to well-known sequences... but the sequences never change, the films never change, the experience never changes. Sure, folks might come up with more elaborate costumes or better cynical jokes but the material is involatile. And you can say the same about the very film prints of SOAP except-

    all of its community was built before a single frame was seen.

    SOAP was an insipid idea encapsulated in a four word title. Other than that? It was an open canvas.

    And the online community ran with it. It made jokes, it made photoshop, comic strips, stupid video, fake trailers, Photoshop Phridays, crap songs. And the convergence of social software just helped fuel it. Blogger, Youtube, Photobucket. In the end 99% of all original content related to Snakes on a Plane was generated outside the official film itself.

    Not only that, but SOAP was something you could participate in. 15 minutes in photoshop and a couple of clicks and your picture of Mace Windu sitting on a Dune sandworm with "Yes, they deserved to die and I hope they burn in hell!" written poorly in Pbrush.exe could end up on a dozen blogs. SOAP was whatever you contributed to it. Even academics and culture critics are getting into it. There are going to be papers, books, theories, conjecture. Someone is going to approach it from a Baudrillardian philosophical perspective and say SOAP was the first movie to truly capture the post-9/11 zeitgeist.

    Technology and society met at a point where this was inevitable. It just took four little words and an idea that everyone could appreciate the straight-faced stupidity of.

    Because of this, the actual frames of the movie are sort of irrelevant. After six months of run up, it was just another signal against the whole span of content out there. And to be honest, it wasn't even as creative or funny as a lot of that anonymous posters came up with.

    The movie is what it is: a generic B horror/suspense film. And anyone looking at just the screen will see that. But those who where out there last Thursday at 10:00 in a theater full of high schoolers and college kids hearing the last ticks of summer? That was the real Snakes on a Plane. People hissing, screaming, yelling. It was a truly shared communal experience. The content on the screen was mere pretext. It was a nation-wide community that hadn't been forced down from some marketing firm that went from flash to bang in six months. MTV, Nike, Universal-Vevendi didn't tell anyone to do this. I have to agree with the guys at RuthlessReviews.com, that's pretty heartening.
  • by alizard (107678) <alizard@@@ecis...com> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @08:59PM (#15959624) Homepage
    Ask Senator Joe Lieberman, who managed to lose the Democratic primary to somebody named Ned Lamont nobody ever heard of that bloggers thought well of.

    However, the real point here is that yes, "Snakes on a Plane" did get plenty of publicity on the Net. From people making fun of an "terrorism" concept that was even stupid for Hollywood; a concept so stupid that even the Transportation Safety Administration won't search travelers for snakes at airports. (as of right now, but I haven't checked the news today)

    In other words, "Snakes" got plenty of free publicity and damned near all of it was bad. Though I'm not at all sure if its dismal box office showing was due to free online publicity or people seeing the conventional marketing and coming to the same conclusion as bloggers. . . so stupid that it isn't worth spending $20 to go see.

    As an "Airplane" style comedy, it might have worked. Was the studio not paying any attention to focus groups or did they recruit the intellectually challenged on purpose? If they'd figured it out in time, they probably could have edited it into a comedy with minimal reshooting.

  • by X86Daddy (446356) on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @11:12PM (#15960064) Journal
    Like someone else said, this movie was labelled with "cult" status before it hit theaters, which is different from most other cult films. I did see an "audience participation guide" published before the film came out, but for the most part it was lame.

    However, now that the movie is out, things have changed. People were clapping and cheering during certain scenes both times that I've seen it (Friday and Monday), and I've been noticing parts of the film that are perfect for audience participation lines. Likewise, this IMDB thread [imdb.com] has a few gems that audience members came up with while viewing the movie for the first time! After this movie has been out another week or so, I expect to see the last show of the evening populated by people who go there not for the deep and moving piece of cinema, but rather for a new, fun, audience-participation laden experience.

    For those of you considering downloading it or getting the DVD, you are missing out. See it at the last showing on a Friday night, preferably at a theater known for a large, loud, youthful crowd. This film is nothing to appreciate in the traditional way, but it is something fabulous and rare... it's a fun movie to see in a theater.
  • by rfc1394 (155777) <Paul@paul-robinson.us> on Tuesday August 22, 2006 @11:45PM (#15960181) Homepage Journal
    It's been said that good advertising makes a bad product die even faster. So the comments about the power of "Internet Buzz" and bloggers is true: good advertising lets people know even faster when a product isn't very good. I saw the previews for the movie (in TV ads, no where else) and I thought the premise was ridiculous. Why would someone be shipping hazardous cargo on a passenger plane (instead of on a cargo plane) and how would anyone have a shipping container system so porous that it allows the cargo to escape, then, on top of this, the plane's systems to separate the (unpressurized) cargo hold from the pressurized passenger hold are not working.

    Now maybe your average person doesn't know all these facts, but they probably saw the film as mostly pointless and stayed away in droves because the advertising let them know how bad the movie is.

    Any one care to take bets on how long before the MPAA tries to claim lackluster ticket sales / DVD rentals/sales is the result of rampant filesharing as opposed to people simply not seeing a really lousy film? :)

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