Snakes on a Plane, one of the most hyped movies of the year, opened this weekend to very mediocre results. Chances are you’ve heard about SoaP if you’ve either a) left your house since last winter, or b) allowed anything to come in, especially the Internet and perhaps a phone line. (I even suspect, but have no proof, an effort was made to somehow introduce SoaP to the water supply by terrorists.) And it seems after all that talk the movie did only slightly better than a campy horror title is expected.
So what’s so special about an over-hyped August movie going bust? The over-hyping of this particular one wasn’t so much the studio’s fault as it was the film geek audience that championed it almost purely on the merits (or drawbacks) of its name. Famously Sam Jackson and the community of bloggers following the film’s development reacted so violently to New Line’s proposed title change (Pacific Air 121) that execs returned to the original. Josh Friedman, the screenwriter who started the online sensation, even turned it into a Zen koan. (His talks with New Line about doctoring the script went sour due to the name change. Also he’s a little profane.) and then there’s Snakes on a Blog founder, Brian Finkelstein, who is completely obsessed.
Amid all this hoopla, critics started seriously discussing what SoaP’s expected success would mean to the industry. Esquire’s critic-at-large Chuck Klosterman saw doom and gloom, while Foxnews.com claimed it “might change the way movies are marketed forever.”
But that was assuming it was a success. Instead the film took in only $15.3 million – take out the $1.4 million from Thursday night and it slips under Talladega Nights’ third weekend in the box office standings. Call off the revolution. But like the koan goes, “Snakes on a plane.”