Monday, August 21, 2006

We're number one! Just don't brag about it.

Something strange is going on when your movie tops the box office lists in its opening weekend, and yet the people behind the picture are saying that it was still a fairly disappointing showing. And yet, that's exactly what the hype-driven Snakes on a Plane is currently dealing with.

Quite honestly, I never expected to find myself writing about SoaP. Not because I don't think that it could be (and, by most accounts, is) a fairly fun movie. Not because I'm above dragging out the (now over-used) line of Samuel L. Jackson's. Honestly, I never expected to write anything about it because, well, it'd be hard to talk about something for which the hype-machine has been working so much overtime for, and which I haven't had the chance to see personally yet.

However, when I see that it took the number one spot at the box office and people are still complaining that it didn't do well enough, I just can't leave it alone. True, it opened with around $15M, which is barely over what Talladega Nights pulled down in it's third weekend. True, it wasn't really faced with stiff competition, because, while The Illusionist is probably quite good, it's not going to appeal to a broad audience, and Material Girls and Accepted just look like drivel thrown onto film. But still, when the movie has been getting pushed and hyped from every corner of the internet (and some corners of the world outside of the blogosphere), and it still only managed to pull down $15M, you have to wonder if part of that may have been caused by people having been too heavily inundated with the viral marketing around SoaP.

Now I don't for a second think that Snakes on a Plane is going to be a failure as a movie, either on the big screens, or in DVD sales. Hell, if the movie's really as fun as I've heard, it's going to have a lot of longevity by fans of B-movies, much like Tremors. But everyone needed to pull back a bit about two months ago and let the movie build up steam on its own, as opposed to inundating the public with more messages about how utterly amazing it's going to be.

Overall, I think that the marketing that surrounded Snakes on a Plane showcased both what's good and bad about the internet. If it hadn't been for the online push, SoaP would've stood a risk of being one of those PG-13 films that appears in theaters and is out on DVD before people have really registered that it exists. However, by being ever-present, the internet may have actually fueled a certain level of dispassion towards the film, as people saw the hype and decided to see what their friends and relatives were saying about it, rather than bust down the doors of the cineplex to get their tickets at the opening show.

Still, I firmly believe that the movie will do well. Of course, I also believe that it's only a matter of time before we can each go out and purchase our very own SoaP soap.

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