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Yes Virginia, there is Snakes on a Plane

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2006-08-04


This summer’s most anticipated movie doesn’t star Johnny Depp or feature the world’s most famous superhero. It features snakes. Poisonous snakes. Lots of poisonous snakes. Let loose on a plane.

Generating “buzz” from the title alone, the upcoming movie Snakes on a Plane has garnered the kind of rabid publicity that movie producers dream about – the FREE kind. Even before there was a Snakes on a Plane movie trailer, before anyone outside of Hollywood had even seen megastar Samuel L. Jackson battling the serpents on the big-screen, thousands of “netizens” had already seized on the movie, creating blogs, websites, fake trailers and made up dialogue for the flick.

Screenwriter Josh Friedman, who was in talks to work on the Snakes on a Plane script at one point, wrote this on his blog: “It's a title. It's a concept. It's a poster and a logline and whatever else you need it to be. It's perfect. Perfect. It's the Everlasting Gobstopper of movie titles.”

But c’mon, there has to be more to the movie than just “snakes on a plane”, right?

Fortunately/unfortunately no. The plot of Snakes on a Plane is just as simple as it sounds. The movie follows an assassin looking to murder a passenger in protective custody on a flight between Hawaii and California. Rather than, say, simply shooting the target, the assassin instead decides to release a crate full of poisonous snakes loose on the plane. Rather than doing what snakes naturally do (hide), these snakes attack the passengers, and it’s up to Jackson to save the day, or rather, as one line from the movie goes, get “the m@!*$% snakes, off the m@!*$% plane!”

I still can’t quite believe that someone with the movie-star clout of Sam Jackson (the man was in Pulp Fiction!) is starring in a movie that sounds like it should be airing on Schlock Theater at one in the morning on a UHF station in Des Moines. Let’s face it; the title Snakes on a Plane doesn’t scream “class.”

But the “fans” disagreed and demanded that their snakes be delivered on a plane. A few weeks after the announcement of the movie last year, there were fan created web sites, t-shirts and message boards all proclaiming their love for a movie not one of them had ever seen, or would ever get to see, until opening night.

Weirdest of all were the fan-created movie trailers, some of which remixed Jackson’s scenes from Pulp Fiction and Star Wars into Snakes on a Plane theme, while others created faux casting tapes with impressions of actors like Christopher Walken and Beaker from The Muppets all vying for parts in the movie.

This sort of buzz is impossible to buy. Practically everyone I know has at least heard of Snakes on a Plane, be it positively (Isn’t that title hilarious?) or negatively (Isn’t that one of the worst titles known to man?).

Still, the $300 million question is whether or not people will go see Snakes on a Plane? Just when the Internet fervor really began to burn, movie execs decided a to re-shoot parts of the movie to take what was initially going to be rated PG-13 into R-rated territory. But was this really the best decision to make, be it that the 13-year-old boys who would usually be most interested in seeing Snakes on a Plane now won’t be able to go without being accompanied by an adult?

It probably doesn’t matter what rating the movie has since Snakes on a Plane cost a “mere” $35 million to make – a pittance in a world where a movie like Superman Returns can cost upwards of $250 million. With all the buzz surrounding Snakes on a Plan, I can’t quite imagine that the film WON’T turn a profit, let alone make a tidy sum even with the R-rating.

And when it DOES turn a profit, I would expect a whole slew of other animals “on a plane” movies to follow. Think of the possibilities: Spiders On A Plane, Komodo Dragons On A Plane, Squids On A Plane, Yaks On A Plane… They could even start moving it to different modes of transportation — trains, busses, subways, boats… It might never stop! Because the public will demand more and more dangerous creatures on transportation.

Snakes on a Plane slithers into theaters August 18.

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