August 21st, 2006, 12:09 PM
"Snakes on a Plane" fails to charm
So much for the Internet hype. "Snakes on a Plane," a camp thriller that generated an unprecedented tsunami of online hysteria during the past year, crawled into the No. 1 slot at the North American weekend box office with estimated ticket sales of just $15.3 million, its distributor said on Sunday.
New Line Cinema had hoped the movie would open in the low-$20 million range, a spokeswoman said. While the Time Warner Inc.-owned studio was disappointed, she said the film would be profitable. Hailed by celluloid cognoscenti as being so bad that it's good, "Snakes" cost about $30 million to make, a relatively modest sum.
The sales figure covers actual data from Friday and Saturday, as well as an estimate for Sunday. It also includes $1.4 million from Thursday-evening screenings.
Samuel L. Jackson plays an FBI agent trying to regain control of a plane that the Mafia had filled with poisonous snakes in order to kill a protected witness. The only problem was that the title so handily summed up the film's plot that there was little incentive to see it, said Brandon Gray, an analyst at boxofficemojo.com.
"This tells you that you need to have a compelling story or premise to get an audience for your movie," he said.
Senior New Line executives were not available for comment.
The project had been in development since 1999, going through several studios, rewrites and directors. It became a cause celebre last year when Jackson publicly assailed New Line for changing the title to the nebulous "Pacific Air 121."
The studio backed down, empowering Jackson and adoring online fans to complain that the film was not violent enough. Scenes were added ratcheting up the gruesome quotient. The bloggers' victory ensured plenty of media coverage, seemingly turning the little B-movie into a preordained must-see hit.
But filmmaking-by-Internet committee has its limits. Industry surveys in recent weeks indicated only modest interest among the moviegoing masses. New Line found itself both playing up the film's unusual backstory and playing down its sales expectations. It did not screen the movie in advance for critics, a common tactic when a studio fears the reviews will be less than complimentary.
August 21st, 2006, 16:36 PM
I see it as a cult fixation... I mean snakes on an airplane??? How can you spend $30 million on that topic?
August 22nd, 2006, 05:20 AM
Been on a plane with "snakes" er I mean drunken salesmen too many times already, do not need to see a movie of the same name.
August 22nd, 2006, 15:18 PM
Old and Cranky