Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane premiered last night. A scare flick, its makers figured it would be mildly successful, but because of the internet it mushroomed into a cult movie – well before its release – and just might bring in some box office dollars.

A blogger named Josh Friedman seems to have started the craze for the movie in a July 2005 post. His blog got mentioned on several other sites and soon, according to an article on Wikipedia, people began creating “songs, apparel, poster art, pages of fan fiction, parody films, mock movie trailers and even short film parody competitions” and posting them all online. TV and print media picked it up as well, and “Snakes on a Plane” (“SoaP”) became a slang phrase roughly equivalent to a shoulder shrug. The studio even reshot several scenes of the film to incorporate internet fans’ suggestions and dialog.

My 23-year-old daughter arrived home yesterday. Tonight, on the official opening day, she and an enormous crowd of her buddies are going to see the film, plastered with snake stickers and outfitted in custom T-shirts they designed. They plan to invite the entire audience to join them at a nearby bar for a Snakes on a Plane party.

According to posts and comments on SnakesonaBlog some people even camped out to get tickets. Early reviews posted by the snake crazies are overwhelmingly positive. Apparently filmgoers are bringing toy snakes to toss into the air, shouting out comments and lines during the film, clapping and whooping, and generally having a fabulous time.

The very interesting thing about this is its demonstration of the incredible power of the internet and social networking. A single guy recognized the humor in the title and wrote an irreverant blog. This tickled the funny bones of the 20-somethings and they turned it into their own huge party. This movie – the plot of which sounds really dreadful to me – may net the studio some extra bucks, not because of the studio’s advertising dollar or the quality of the film, but because of the interconnectivity of this savvy generation.

Wow. If companies (including design firms?) can even begin to grasp this phenomenon and learn how to use it, they’d have a gold mine. I may be too old to really tap into social media to the same extent as my daughter and her friends, but I can at least be aware of it. I am awestruck and perfectly delighted.

August 21 update: My daughter had fun with the crowd antics, but thought the movie itself was just terrible. Box office results for the film’s first weekend turned out to be no better than any other horror flick, which goes to show that sometimes the anticipation is all the fun. A more important lesson, however, is that the product has to live up to the hype.

Comments are closed.