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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Trend: User-Created: "We Got MuthaFuckin' SNAKES!" Redux

Hype On A Plane?

According to NY Times, Snakes on a Plane,” the wildly hyped high-concept movie, turned out to be a Web-only phenomenon this weekend, as that horror-comedy starring Samuel L. Jackson took in just $15.2 million at the box office in its opening days.

“We’re a little disappointed,” said David Tuckerman, president for theatrical distribution for New Line. “There were a lot of inflated expectations on this picture, with the Internet buzz. But it basically performed like a normal horror movie.”

Projections within Hollywood and on Internet movie sites had predicted that the film might take in anywhere from $20 million to more than $30 million on its opening weekend.

“We see that Internet interest in a movie doesn’t necessarily translate to good box office,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, a company that tracks the box office. “To some, the marketing was more exciting than the movie. Everyone was talking about the movie. But you have to convert that talk into moviegoing, otherwise it’s just talk.”

But the film was still the No. 1 draw at the box office over the weekend when including $1.4 million from the Thursday-night screenings. “Talladega Nights” ranked second, drawing an estimated $14.1 million in its third weekend in theaters, for a total of $114.7 million. “World Trade Center” followed, taking in $10.8 million, and has sold $45 million in tickets since opening on Aug. 9. Another new release, a young-adult comedy from Universal titled “Accepted,” took in an estimated $10.1 million.

Many films have been given a strong presence on the Internet to build anticipation, but “Snakes on a Plane,” a relatively low-budget movie at $32 million with a decidedly B-level vibe, took the practice to a new level. Fans who visited the official Web site could enter a telephone number to send people a call from Mr. Jackson urging them to see what he suggested could be the best movie in history.

The filmmakers even reshot some scenes at bloggers’ suggestion to make the movie harder-edged, with more rough language and violence to give it an R rating. They also added a signature line for Mr. Jackson, the now classic "We Got Muthaf*%kin' SNAKES!"

In addition to these efforts, New Line conducted a more traditional marketing campaign, spending upward of $20 million on movie prints and on advertising, including television. The studio declined to screen the film for critics before the opening.

But all this effort, it seemed, yielded no more results than the conventional methods used by Hollywood for decades.

At New Line executives were still chewing over the results of their rollicking Internet experiment. “We’ll make money with this picture, it’s just more disappointing because of all the inflated expectations,” Mr. Tuckerman said. “Now we have to sit back and figure out how to take the lessons from it.”


El Gaffney said...

Really interesting thought on BusinessWeek's blog——is that Snakes should have opened in March. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but I'd have to agree that earlier would have been better. Then all the cult followers would have seen it back then (possibly multiple times) and the hype would have sent "the masses" to the movies rather than the official site and blogs.

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