Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sorry to Beat a Dead "Snake"...

It seems only fair to follow up yesterday's "Is 'Snakes on a Plane' Dead in the Air?" query with a solid answer:

Yes. Yes it is.

"Snakes" finished the weekend with a $15.25 million take.

All sorts of websites -- Zap2it included -- are documenting "Snakes" as the weekend's top movie, which I guess it technically is. But that "Snakes" total still includes the $1.4 million the movie made on Thursday night. That's not the weekend in my world. Take that out of the equation and "Snakes" made only $13.8 million, which would have put it second for the weekend, behind yet another frame for "Talladega Nights."

As I noted yesterday, "Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid" made only a million less in its first weekend, and if you adjust for inflation and increased ticket prices and all that stuff? Well, there's just no sugar-coating the disappointment. Guess what? With a budget estimated between $35 and $40 million, "Snakes on a Plane" may not make its money back at the domestic box office. Sure, it's still gonna make money down the road. But not much. Who'd have predicted that?

"Snakes" made less money in its opening weekend than "Coach Carter" ($24 million) or "Deep Blue Sea" ($19 million). It made more than "The Man" and "XXX: State of the Union" and "Freedomland" made in their opening weekends. So it's got that going for it.

The simple fact is this: "Snakes on a Plane," despite the months of hype, buzz, magazine covers and endless discussion, did no better than you would expect a Samuel L. Jackson late-summer creature feature to do and may have even done worse.

It could easily be argued that had the Internet buzz never happened and had New Line just made up several traditional trailers of scary snakes, SamJack being authoritative and maybe Kenan Thompson being funny, that hypothetical film might well have had a superior box office performance.

In fact, I kinda made that argument yesterday.

[On a side note: I find it coincidental -- stupider people would probably call it "ironic" -- that this same weekend last year was won by an R-rated movie that initially stirred up interest entirely because it had a goofy, fun name. "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" made more than $21 million and had sufficient legs to carry to $100 million. That's a hit.]

Thoughs? Analysis? Disagreements? Wanna try to tell me that "Snakes" is still a huge hit and I'm just not understanding the numbers?


  1. yea, i thought it might just do a little better this least 20 million.

    --RC of

  2. Heck, I don't predict box office, because it's something I stink at, but I'd have probably guessed $25-30 million for an opening.

    Nobody predicted anything this low.


  3. Anonymous11:03 PM

    "Nobody predicted anything this low."

    Nobody asked me. I think the hype could've been productive at the box-office, but they really missed their window of opportunity. Okay, so you don't open it the same weekend as _Superman Returns_ or _Pirates_, but there were other things it could have gone up against at some point earlier in the season than late-august and profitted from its own self-inflated sense of buzz and pulled in closer to 20*10^6 in the opening weekend, even w/o fudging the numbers by including Thursday's take.


  4. So all I had to do was ask and you'd have told me an exact figure lower than $15 million?

    I believe that "The C-Dub's Box Office Picks" may need to become a regular Check the Fien Print feature!!!

  5. My reaction to the box office is pretty much the same as Pauline Kael's to Nixon's election: "How can that be? I don't know anyone who voted for him." Everyone I knew was into the Snakes buzz, but I guess geeky internet users age 18-24 are a smaller section of the population than I assumed.

    The dynamics here are pretty similiar to Serenity: big internet following and promotion; non-traditional marketing; $40 million budget... and both did disapointingly on their opening. The difference is that while I and a gaggle of my friends saw both on opening day, we did not smuggle alcohol into the theatre and drink everytime someone said "snakes" or "motherfucker" when we watched Serenity.

  6. Hey Jacob...

    I've heard the "Serenity" comparison other places as well and I think there are a couple big differences:

    The first is that "Serenity" was a property that viewers had already rejected in another form, which provided Universal with another challenge and another excuse just to preach to the choir.

    Also, "Serenity" was a much harder premise to explain to neophytes in a quick trailer or soundbyte. Thus, lots of people could watch a commercial for "Serenity" and not have a clue what it was. "Snakes" is entirely self-explanatory.

    That's why I give Universal points for effort on "Serenity." I felt like the studio tried a number of different marketing strategies on that one, not that they necessarily succeeded. I give New Line no such points...


  7. Anonymous10:18 PM

    You make a good point about SERENITY not being self-explanatory. That's why I was lobbying for them to call the movie "Han Solo vs. The Evil Space Empire."

  8. Anonymous9:34 AM


    but i'm pretty sure we haven't heard the last of snakes.