Thursday, August 31, 2006

More Snakes than bucks

Mr. Cavin writes:
Based on information I read at The New York Times, I was under the impression that Snakes on a Plane was reaping the norm for a late summer horror release, and that any illusion of its poor performance was due to hopes being inflated by the internet hype phenomena (a lesson apparently no one took home after the halfhearted opening weekend of Steven Spielberg's AI). Certainly SOAP isn't bombing, though, just merely normal.
This argument reminds me of Joan Crawford's in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Joan Crawford: You wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if I weren't still in this chair.

Bette Davis: But you ARE, Blanche! You ARE in that chair!
True, Snakes on a Plane wouldn't be a belly flop if it hadn't been the most-hyped Internet phenomenon in Hollywood memory, with 31 million Google hits (as of a minute ago) compared to 8 million for the movie of the summer, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. But it WAS, Blanche! It WAS!

According to the Internet Movie Database, here are movies that did better on opening weekend this summer than Snakes on a Plane, which did $15 million. First I list the title, then the opening-weekend gross.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $135 million
  • X-Men: The Last Stand $122 million
  • The Da Vinci Code $77 million
  • Ice Age: The Meltdown $68 million
  • Cars $60 million
  • Superman Returns $52 million
  • Mission: Impossible 3 $47 million
  • Talladega Nights $47 million
  • Click $40 million
  • Scary Movie 4 $40 million
  • The Break-Up $39 million
  • Over the Hedge $38 million
  • Nacho Libre $28 million
  • The Devil Wears Prada $27 million
  • Miami Vice $25 million
  • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift $23 million
  • Monster House $22 million
  • Poseidon $22 million
  • Little Man $21 million
  • You, Me and Dupree $21 million
  • Silent Hill $20 million
  • Step Up $20 million
  • Lady in the Water $18 million
  • World Trade Center $18 million
  • Invincible $17 million
  • The Omen $16 million
  • RV $16 million

    "Let's make a summer action movie starring Samuel L. Jackson, hype it until its very title becomes a catchphrase on the lips of millions, open it on an August weekend with no competition, and make about half as much money as Nacho Libre" is not a recipe for Hollywood success, however you try to spin it.

    Snakes on a Plane wound up making the same opening-weekend box office as Barnyard, made by people so stupid they don't know that bulls do not have udders.

    Its first week, Snakes on a Plane grossed $20 million. Its second week, $6 million. At this rate, will it still be theaters a fourth week?

    To paraphrase Bette Davis again: What. A. Flop.

    (For what it's worth, the only other airliner-in-peril movie this summer, itself overhyped, grossed only $11 million its opening weekend. But United 93 already has grossed more than twice its cost; that seems a forlorn box-office hope for Snakes on a Plane.)

    Reel Fanatic said...

    That list does indeed show just how much of a failure SoaP turned out to be, but that still caught me by surprise .. to me, the flick delivered exactly what it promised, just a big ball of B-movie fun

    Mr. Cavin said...

    Oh a flop. Yeah, that I can get behind, assuming you mean lackluster. Really, it was almost destined to be a flop: B-grade drive-in fare is almost always lackluster as it aims for a specific, exclusive market (what they used to call a ballyhoo market). All the NYT article seemed to be saying is that the film performed the way any reasonable estimation should have expected it to, just so long as the estimator had not been wowed by the internet buzz. This article even says that the movie was right on-track based on market projections that had later been adjusted to compensate for buzz. Why the heck do people think buzz counts for anything, anyway?

    I do want to pick nits here: a bomb, as I understand it, is a movie that fails to make its money back. Snakes on a Plane will certainly make money (has already, it seems--and probably earned its price tag in home and foreign distribution rights alone, a fact passed over when tallying ticket sales as a movie's sole income). I'll go ahead and put two bucks, two to one odds, on it doing fairly brisk sales in DVD, too, since the reviews have been enticing for the kind of film it is, and also because that is when most internet buzzers lay down the cash, statistically. Shake?

    Back to your thesis, though, it seems to be on par, so far, with the "airline peril" movie from this weekend last year, Redeye.Though this spot seems to be trending down, finally, to resemble last year's dismal box office numbers failure after what had been a better year. Don't know if this helps my argument or not.