Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

August 22, 2006

TO takes his ball and goes home. What a shocker.

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Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

Kim Hollis: Snakes on a Plane opened to a disappointing $15.3 million. How surprised are you by this turn of events?

Reagen Sulewski: Gobsmacked is probably the term to use. This silver platter that Marketing was handed turned out to be made of pewter, or perhaps lead.

David Mumpower: What's a phrase beyond stunned? Like Reagen and Steve, I fully expected this to open to $40 million. When Friday early reports came in, I found myself wondering "Where IS everybody?"

Tim Briody: As stupid as the entire project sounded, and in fact was, it just seemed that with all the free press this thing had generated for months, that it was going to do $15.3 million on Friday.

Joel Corcoran: Completely stunned. Obviously, we overlooked something important during last week's discussion about how anything with a MySpace page is an automatic box office heavyweight. Maybe the hype went too far over the edge.

Kim Hollis: I started getting a little jittery on its prospects a couple of weeks ago. I think there was some strong Internet awareness for the film, but it seemed artificial somehow. If you're comparing it to the Blair Witch Project, which was totally organic in its buzz, there was a different feel.

David Mumpower: Someone else made the point to me the other day that there is a difference between awareness and anticipation. I thought he was being a hater but in hindsight, he drilled the most important distinction about the product.

Reagen Sulewski: One thing I suppose it shows is that you can't completely ignore traditional outlets of promotion. I saw very little in the way of TV ads for the film until very late in the game. They decided they were going to see how much they could get for free.

Tim Briody: Do you think people just got so sick of the hype that they said "to hell with it, I'll wait for DVD"?

Kim Hollis: And yet by the same token, there was that danger of the traditional outlets making the "big fans" feel like it wasn't their movie anymore.

Joel Corcoran: That could be it, Tim. Also, I think the marketing was too over-the-top in some respects.

David Mumpower: Tim, this is another argument made to me recently I unjustly discarded. The saturation of the product was obviously a huge issue.

Kim Hollis: With all this said, I think where Snakes on a Plane finds its real life is on DVD, where it has a great chance at being a cult phenomenon.

Hi. This is Samuel L. Jackson. You might know me from movies like The Incredibles and Shaft.

Joel Corcoran: Being able to send automated Samuel L. Jackson telephone calls to all my friends two weeks before the opening seemed a little bit desperate to me.

Kim Hollis: It smacked of awesomeness to me. But yeah, I can see what you're saying.

David Mumpower: I thought that was one of the most brilliant marketing ideas EVER. Honestly, I can't believe how out of touch I am with mainstream consumers on this one. I was so wrong here I might merit my own MMQB discussion topic.

Joel Corcoran: Oh, I think it's a brilliant marketing gimmick, but it just struck me as a little too much.

Kim Hollis: One of the ESPN radio guys actually played his Samuel L. Jackson message on air during the week.

Tim Briody: I think an additional mistake was that it wasn't screened for critics. Did it really matter if the movie was bad? Isn't that the point of a movie called "Snakes on a Plane"? And the irony is that it sits at 63% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Reagen Sulewski: This is doubly odd, since it actually ended up getting the benefit of the doubt from critics.

Reagen Sulewski: Something I always say about these things is that if you want your film to be a cult classic, it first has to fail.

Joel Corcoran: Honestly, I don't understand why this film didn't do better at the box office. I'm just throwing out conjecture after conjecture, but I really have no idea why it didn't break at least $20-$25 million.


Reagen Sulewski: There were so many other pieces of crap to compare it to that did two or three times as much; it really seems like they botched something here with the free hype.

But I know it's all Owen Wilson's fault.

David Mumpower: I am sad that we live in a world where people would rather see You, Me and Dupree than Snakes on a Plane.

Kim Hollis: I just don't think New Line was able to reach out past the target audience. Those people were already sold. They didn't get the additional bodies in seats.

Joel Corcoran: That's about the only thing I can come up with. Reagen. If Miami Vice opened to $25 million, this film should've done at least as well.

Tim Briody: On the other hand, say the film was called Pacific Air Flight blah blah whatever number. Then it opens to $4 million and we never even mention it, so it's a mild win, but you get the feeling that it could have been so much more.

Kim Hollis: There's always a danger in thinking "if something else did xxxx, such and such film should do better." It never seems to pan out.

David Mumpower: In the end, this project was much closer to Tremors or Eight-Legged Freaks than it was to Anaconda, a 1997 release that inflation adjusts to $23.2 million. And that pisses me off.

Reagen Sulewski: It is so much better a film than it had any right to be.

Kim Hollis: Owen Wilson was in Anaconda, too. It's his fault.

Reagen Sulewski: I also tend to wonder if the hype didn't just pass it by; it feels like it peaked in June or so.

Tim Briody: Again, bringing us back to the over-saturation idea.

David Mumpower: In hindsight, I agree that an entire summer of Snakes on a Plane discussions hurt the product a great deal.

Tim Briody: Maybe they should have called it Snakes vs. Plane. That worked the last couple years.



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