PLANE HAS SNAKES, NEEDS VIEWERS
Thriller's Debut Will Test
(The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2006)
(Link to story on wsj.com)
by SAM SCHECHNER
IT MAY BE a horror flick, but "Snakes on a Plane" is becoming something of a suspense thriller for Hollywood insiders, too.
The movie, which opens today, has generated an unusually large wave of Internet buzz and anticipation almost entirely on the strength of its self-explanatory title. For several months, fans have created Web sites such as snakesonablog.com and parody videos with names like "Raccoons on a Space Shuttle." Devotees have even speculated about how Samuel L. Jackson, who stars as a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, would react verbally to being trapped on a serpent-filled trans-Pacific flight.
But "Snakes" is also turning into a test of whether a home-grown marketing effort spearheaded by bloggers and amateur filmmakers can help propel a wide-release movie to a successful opening. New Line Cinema has decided not to screen the movie for critics and instead embraced its online fans, allowing them to copy and splice together unauthorized videos drawn from official trailers and other publicity materials. Also, the filmmakers added new scenes to the film, including one where Mr. Jackson's character delivers an exclamation similar to one a sound-alike had uttered in a fan trailer. In it, Mr. Jackson repeatedly uses an Oedipal expletive to describe both the snakes and the plane. ...