Monday, August 21, 2006

What's In A Name?

I think it's pretty clear to anybody sensible that a film called Snakes on a Plane wasn't exactly going to set the box office alight. For most people, a name as ridiculous as that one appears to be a pretty clear indicator of low quality - wrongly or rightly it will put lots and lots of people off.

Of course, we all know this already, we bloggers, blogreaders, the film geek chapter of the active internet. And that's why we wanted to love the film - the title, in all of it's plain and simple snakes and plane-ness. A title that was so brilliantly, instantly obviously awful we could smell the badness before we knew even a single other fact about the film at all.

And the second fact we learned about the film fizzed with the first like alchemy - Samuel L. Jackson was going to be in it. The internet carried out a very reasonable act of closure really very quickly: this film was going to be a B movie - capital B, in bold, underlined and possibly even italic. And Samuel Jackson was going to be in Pulp Fiction mode.

The Snakes fans weren't special - everybody else sensed this too, however unconsciously, once they finally heard about the film - but, of course, how many folk really want to see such a thing?

The very reason the internet took Snakes to their heart is at the heart of the reason the film failed to appeal to a broader audience.

Prooir to release, it looked like the film's lack of appeal on a broader platform was completely lost on the busily blogging hordes. Everybody the webheads knew had heard of the film, sure - they'd heard of it from them. But was the word of mouth actually spreading any further?

Well, I must have told countless people about Snakes on a Plane. My sister, my dad, his carer, my niece, a couple of my brothers, some work colleagues and friends of friends. I promise you, not a single person on that list had an ounce of enthusiasm for it, nor any way to understand the anticipation the message board crawlers were experiencing. As a result, my sister, my dad, his carer, my niece... and so on... every one of them proved to be the end of the line. They didn't go on to sell Snakes to any of their friends or colleagues or relatives.

The Snakes mavens may have broken their internet circles with the news, but what they were broadcasting was not an appealing message. There was a film coming, it was called Snakes on a Plane and it featured snakes, on a plane. Oh, and Samuel L. Jackson was going to swear in it - Oh, whoopee doo.

What this weekend's box office take suggests, truthfully, is some sense of the buying power represented by the internet addicts and film site junkies of the world. How much can a site like Aint It Cool, Jo Blo, Chud, film ick, Cinematical or Dark Horizons actually do?

After Serenity, Slither and Snakes we've finally gotten a pretty good sample, a pretty clear suggestion that the answer is about ten million dollars worth. Time for some web-friendly B-movies with two-million dollar budgets, maybe? Well, I've got a script coming along nicely here (no snakes, no planes, but a genre film and very web friendly) and I'm only looking for a hundred thousand...

1 comment:

Mark said...

Yup. For months I've been thinking "oh just fuck off" every time some pub bore went "but it's snakes ...on a plane!". And Sam Jackson swearing? Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was funny when Chappelle did that gag, how long ago? 2003?

And SERENITY main problem was it wasn't as good as the best FIREFLY episodes were. Except for the zombie bits. Zombies make everything better.