So Snakes on a Plane didn’t do as well as expected. What surprises me is why anybody is surprised about this. But they are, and the backlash against the blogosphere has already started.
“It doesn’t create any sort of mandate for Internet promotion,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations, noting that all the Web hype for Snakes on a Plane didn’t translate into ticket-buying.
And I’m sure that New Line execs are already saying to each other, “Boy, that’s the last time we let the motherfucking audience add any motherfucking lines to our motherfucking movies.”
But that all misses the point, which is this: by the time that the actual movie came out, everybody had already moved on. Culturally, Snakes on a Plane was a novelty act, and it peaked a few months ago. By now, most people don’t want to go to a theatre just to see Samuel L Jackson say that line which had become an instant classic, and will be parodied for, well, a couple more weeks now. (Let’s just say that it’s a bit specific to end up like “Show me the money!!” or “I’ll make them an offer they can’t refuse,” or nearly everything Bogey says in Casablanca.)
Had the movie come out in the springtime, it would have been a monster smash it. Tough luck for all concerned, but films don’t move at netspeed. Not yet, anyways.
I think like The Blair Witch Project, the circumstances surrounding Snakes on a Plane and its relationship to the Web are unique, and probably neither repeatable nor a harbinger.
Now, since it’s a niche film appealing to a niche audience — and despite the trendy bypass of critic screenings, it still got mixed reviews — I’m sure that it will do just fine out there on the Long Tail . . .