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Where is your messiah now, Internets?

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As you all know by now, SNAKES ON A PLANE, the internet driven movie phenomenon which saw Samuel L. Jackson intoning “M—–f—in’ snakes on a m—–f—in’ plane!” everywhere nerd hipsters congregate, was a first place flop — a mere $15 mil in BO, and that contested, being padded by every available preview penny.

Now let’s get one thing straight. You’ll find very, very few mentions of SNAKES ON A PLANE, or SoaP as it is known, on this here blog. We are not primarily a movie blog, to begin with, and even more bluntly, we live in a world of m—–f—in’ COMIC BOOKS, DUDE! SNAKES ON A PLANE! TEENAGE MUTAnT NINJA TURTLE! TOO MUCH COFFEE MAN! THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT!…Wait that was a movie…but anyway, as a comics nerd, we’re pretty much hardened to that sense of ironic fun and post-modern histrionics that SoaP seemed to be speaking to in the blogosphere — heck, when we’re in the mood for ironic silliness, we just create our own!

This is, however, a pretty colossal failure of Hollywood’s continued wooing of the Internerd. Bloggers seized on this movie as if it were their own invention, becoming cozy marketing partners with the guy who was in PULP FICTION.

The LA Times has a report on the geek-infested red carpet scene:

As I approached the theater–red carpet unfurled, screaming crowd penned across Hollywood Blvd.–I was brought to a halt by one plaintive cry from the ticketholders line. “I’m the number one “Snakes” blogger! You want to interview me!” a young vaguely gothish woman calls. Taking the bait, I turn to meet Reba Mac, a 22-year-old from Rialto, who has been “Snakes”-blogging on her MySpace page (myspace.com/reebster). “This is my dream come true,” she gushes at a disconcertingly high volume. “This is my fairy tale.”

Reba tells me about the freelance promotional work she has undertaken on “Snakes’ ” behalf. In addition to blogging on her MySpace page, she has turned her place of employment–her local Olive Garden restaurant where she is a server–into a mini-Snakes press center. “I’d be at work,” she says, “Serving the tables and I’d just stand there and talk about this movie. When people paid, I’d come back and say, ‘Don’t forget to see Snakes.'”


Snakes on a Blog is perhaps the epicenter of SoaP-ocity, and the blogger there has an even more breathless account of the premiere posted today, when most blogs, like Defamer, were conducting a chilling autopsy of the shocking flop.

I spent the last eight months of my life blogging about a film called Snakes on a Plane. I started my blog on a lark, hoping to get myself invited to the Hollywood premiere. I spent the eight months building towards the day I would walk down the red carpet in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and pass through the big doors into the premiere. The free popcorn once I got inside was, admittedly, an afterthought.


From this you can see the appeal of SoaP to the average nerdy movie blogger — for once, a guy in a Target shirt and Gap pants had a chance to go to a big movie premiere, not just as an outsider, but an INSIDER. No wonder bloggers embraced this film to their collective bosom, like Cleopatra and her asp.

It’s too early to see if SoaP’s failure will cool the hot and heavy romance between the studios and viral internet marketing. If the idea that playing to the ‘net is a losing game actually catches on, it could eventually effect San Diego, for instance.

In fact, New Line may have made brilliant use of citizen blogges, but they also made some very dumbass mistakes, like not screening the movie for critics, who were generally FAVORABLE. Word of mouth was also strong, so they should probably have done more sneak peeks to NON internet users.

In the end, it proves something we’ve been saying for a while: The internet is NOT real life. You must market to the real world too. Sure there’s a nice little world in a bottle that we all like playing in, but as much as it pains us to admit it, not everyone reads blogs all day. There’s a lesson for everyone in New Line’s mistake.

  1. You’ve hit the nail right on the head there, Heidi.

    SoaP seems to have most non-Internet-induced movie-goers feeling about as enthusiastic as Mel Gibson attending a Bar Mitzvah.

    Although it at least features just as much colourful language.

  2. I think the Entertainment Weekly reviewer summed it up best when he stated that this is the kind of concept Don Simspon would write down on the remains of his blow on a glass table, thinking it’s a good idea.

  3. I think if anything, the relative flop of SoaP is another indicator of the “echo chamber” effect you get when the Internet starts overrating its own sense of self-importance. Add that to the echo chamber that is Hollywood and I think both of ’em got exactly what they deserved.

    The Olive Garden story also shows what happens when Internet marketing goes wrong. I was sick to hell of SoaP months ago because of all the ludicrous amounts of hype for what was self-admittedly a B-movie. Having a server at a chain restaurant try to plug it to me would have made me even less likely to see it, not more.

  4. People….especially the people sitting in on the internet, will never truly grasp that they’re still just a minority of people. Just because many are loud mouths, it doesn’t mean the web is a force to be reckoned with in terms of financial mainstream gains on chatroom/forum/blog hot topics.

  5. How is it that a movie that only cost $30 million to make, and that debuted at the top of the box office, is being called a flop? No way this movie doesn’t make the other $15 million back, and the Internet marketing was cheap, so they will easily be in profit by the time it goes to DVD.

    No, it didn’t set the box office on fire, and expectations were unrealistically high. But a flop? That’s overstating things.

  6. I liked “Snakes on a Plane.” ^_^; I think, as long as you go in knowing it was supposed to be a b-rated horror/comedy, it went fine. It neither went above nor below my expectations. It made me jump, but it was also so cheesy at parts, it made me laugh.

    A fun movie to watch with an audience.

    Not a movie I’d watch by myself at home.

  7. > How is it that a movie that only cost $30 million to make, and that debuted at
    > the top of the box office, is being called a flop? No way this movie doesn’t
    > make the other $15 million back, and the Internet marketing was cheap, so
    > they will easily be in profit by the time it goes to DVD.
    >
    >No, it didn’t set the box office on fire, and expectations were unrealistically
    >high. But a flop? That’s overstating things.

    I agree that declaring SoaP a flop is probably an overstatement right now.

    And it’s true that there are so many revenue streams for movies–DVD sales/rentals; cable & network broadcast; overseas box office & broadcast; airplane versions (well, strike that for SoaP ;-0)–that it’s easy to think that this movie will be in the black eventually. But still, it’s worth remembering that a movie studio doesn’t get every dollar that’s spent on ticket sales–the movie theatres get their cut too, of course!–so it’s not quite right to think that since the movie cost the studio $30 million to make and it brought in $15 million in ticket sales that the studio only has to make another $15 million in ticket sales. It’ll take a little more than that.

    As for the internet marketing being cheap, that’s true. But the thing is that the internet buzz caused New Line to spend more–their display at Comic-Con San Diego musta cost a pretty penny; that customized-voice-mail-from-Samuel-L.-Jackson website feature wasn’t cheap, I’m sure; etc.–than they would have otherwise. So, really, the lesson they’ll likely learn is that internet buzz doesn’t necessarily warrant extra spending to chase mainstream audiences. And that’s what makes this whole thing an…interesting…case study.

    Me, though, I enjoyed the dickens out of this movie…

  8. Yeah, that Olive Garden story is about ME. And there are things that need to be clarified. I DID not write that story, a reporter who based an entire article on a few things I told him wrote it. How long do you think I’d have a job if that’s what was really going on. I simply spoke about the movie to a few of my more enjoyable tables and to people who seemed to be interested. Secondly, as much as you say the internet didn’t help this movie….. are you serious? YES, this is a B movie. YES, it was ridiculous and YES there was a lot of talk on the internet. But HELLO! IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE RIDICULOUS! I don’t know about everyone else, but that is one of the reasons I latched on to this film, because of the fact that very few people understood it. THIS FILM IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. This whole movie was a big fucking joke. The internet buzz DID help this movie, without it, this film would have been nothing. That’s another thing that makes this film so special…. the FANS made this movie. Can you think of another movie that has EVER had that effect? NO you can’t. And I’m not talking about sequels or prequels. I’m talking about a brand new very low budget movie that had been highly anticipated for MONTHS prior to it’s release. This movie is definitly a milestone in American cinema history. Maybe it didn’t set the box office on fire, but WHO cares?! Everyone associated with the movie is happy.

    There were thousands of fans WORLD wide that enjoyed being a part of this film’s history. Just because you don’t understand that it was a JOKE, doesn’t mean you need to take the fans down.

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