So, Snakes on a Plane didn’t do so hot, even if it was just barely at the top of the tally this weekend, earning a little over $15 million, including the early Thursday-night showings. For only Friday-through-Sunday, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby takes the weekend, but it doesn’t really seem fair to discount Thursday night, because if those early screenings hadn’t been available, all us geeks who saw the film then would have gone on Friday anyway.
What happened? Why didn’t Snakes draw the $30 million New Line was apparently expecting? Jay at Digital Media Wire thinks he knows:
This is obviously a movie that has as its core audience in young male adults (it is R-rated). That naturally limits the audience figure. But the studio obviously expected it to have a broader appeal, based on the fact that they decided to open it super-wide in 3,555 theaters.
I suspect New Line was right to think that the audience would be more than teenaged boys and young men — at both the Thursday-night and Friday-night showings I attended, the girls were out in equal numbers with the guys, and not, it seemed, just along with their boyfriends — women were whooping and hollering just as loudly as, and in some cases more aggressively than, the men.
USA Today, not surprisingly, gets it completely wrong:
[A]nalysts say that the movie’s failure to match its hype may dispel the notion of the Internet as a wellspring of untapped moviegoers.
Wrong: the Net is not home to untapped moviegoers — it’s home to the already-plugged-in moviegoers. Net-surfing geeks were already gonna see this film even if there had been no bizarre and creative groundswell of fanac for it. The untapped moviegoers for a flick like Snakes on a Plane are the people who aren’t online… except that there probably isn’t anything that would have dragged them in to see this movie anyway.
What that $15 million represents is hardcore geeks, the most serious fans of horror and cheeseball movies and the combination of the two, not the most casual ones. The studio may have done itself a disservice by not marketing beyond the weird crap the hardcore geeks were already doing to amuse themselves, but the vast majority of moviegoers are still not plugged in to the geek matrix. Those folks needed to see an ad for this movie during a rerun of CSI or Everybody Loves Raymond.
I think people were more excited about the marketing than the actual movie. New Line did not set out to create this Internet buzz. That’s actually a marketer’s dream, but when marketing translates into awareness but does not inspire people to get out from behind their computers and into the theater, that’s a problem.
And it’s true that some of the fan-created crap is better than the film itself, like All Your Snakes Are Belong to Us. Enjoy: