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August 20, 2006

Snakes On A Plane Slithers To Eh Box Office

A $13.something weekend take, putting it at Number Two behind last week's realease Talledega Nights.

Not poisonous, but neither is it soaring.

Allah and I currently arguing if this is weak or very weak for a movie with so much free buzz, and whether that means that blogs and the alternative media are paper tiger (cubs) or not.

I think it's just weak, not very weak. Late August is a dumping ground for weaker popcorn fare; big hyped tentpole movies don't get realeased August 18th.

Still, with all the buzz, I'd've expected higher. How much higher? I don't know. If I had to guess, I would have said 40 mil or so. So that's a pretty big underperformance by my own (completely uniformed) retroactive guestimate.

Then again, most of the buzz was of a decidedly forked-tongue-in-cheek nature. No one was really hyping this as the next Lord of the Rings. It was always mentioned in a giddy, can-you-believe-this-silliness? way.

I guess my own negative review didn't help. I guess I should have actually seen the movie before reviewing it, but brown people scare me too much, unless they're avuncular men of wisdom and kindness, like Morgan Freeman, although Morgan Freeman scares the crap out of me too. I rate Driving Miss Daisy as one of the most viscerally horrifying films since The Exorcist.

Allah thinks it establishes that the Internet can't shape opinion, and no one reads blogs.

Mr. Sunshine, this one is.

I know the studio people must be pretty bummed. They probably figured this to be a modest ticket-seller, but then began ratcheting up expectations when the premise caught the imaginations of most of the Internet. Those elevated expections have been pretty well dashed, I think.

But again, it only caught people's imaginations in an ironic kind of way.

As I said to Allah, no matter how much free buzz this movie got, it was still a movie about Snakes On A Plane. Viral marketing can't turn a cheesy snakespolitation goof into a Sixth Sense.

Note: The film's budget was only $33 mil, and I'm guessing about that much, or a little less, was spent on promotion. Internet buzz -- of, again, a dubiously-helpful ironic kind -- increased name recognition to a certain extent, surely, but I disagree that silly photoshops and the fake-excitement "countdown clocks" were worth many millions in free advertising.

The film will make a profit, but it doesn't look like it's going to be a blockbuster. It'll take in $100 million domestic, tops, unless it has some incredibly-impropbable Sixth Sense/Titanic repeat-viewing phenomenon on its side.

Hollywood Stock Exchange: I've never really understood how this thing worked; it's kind of a TradeSports for movies. If I'm reading this right, Snakes on a Plane has lost about half its highest price as a "commodity."

But I have no idea if I'm reading that right.

I also have no idea if that matters at all.

It does seem to indicate a big reduction in previous estimates of the film's box office. (If I'm reading it right.)

Geeks Can't Create Buzz: Jim Rockford notes that despite lots of geeky internet love, Serentity (or "Fireflop the Movie," as he calls it) still did pretty weak b.o.

I think we can use some common sense here and figure out what's going on.

If no one listens to us socially-retarded Garanimals-wearing geek morons in real life, why on earth would anyone pay us any real mind on the Internet?

Negative Internet Publicity? It's actually possible, I think, the Internet lost SOAP box office, because the "free hype" was of a mocking variety. Mocking in a gentle and fond way, but still mocking.

What if the studio had gone ahead and given the film a less silly title, like, I don't know, Venom or something? The Internet buzz kind of locked them in (or so they thought) into the absurd snakesploitation title Snakes on a Plane.

It's kind of hard to take a movie called Snakes on a Plane seriously. That's kind of what created all the "buzz" in the first place.

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posted by Ace at 05:24 PM

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