The internet was used to create a massive buzz around a 2006 feature film – Snakes On A Plane. Through blogs and forums, internet users influenced the plot, dialogue, the choice of lead actor, timing of the release and the promotional material. Ultimately the hype was better than the film but the background to release is very interesting.
Snakes On A Plane was a film script that nobody wanted. Originally titled 'Venom', the script was turned down by more than 30 Hollywood studios in 1995. However, MTV started to take an interest in 1999 and it was then signed up by New Line Studios.
The film started to generate a lot of publicity on the internet. Screenwriter Josh Friedman even offered a chance for members of the public to work on the script. Blogs like http://www.snakesonablog.com/ encouraged debate and contributed to the hype around the film. (Snakesonablog creator “I’ve been online for 90 days. I’ve had 265,000 visitors and posted 185 stories. There have been 770,000 requests for pages, and a staggering 18,100,000 requests for all files. I’ve transferred 375 gigabytes of data. There are currently 31 translations of “Snakes on a Plane” into foreign languages. I’ve been interviewed by TV crews. According to Google, SnakesOnABlog.com has appeared in 34 newspaper stories, been linked to by 521 blogs, and over 6,500 other webpages.”) Fans started making their own promo posters and trailers – posting them on the internet and creating more buzz. One journalist described Snakes On A Plane as the most “internet-hyped film of all time.”
The hype prompted Samuel L. Jackson to agree to take the lead role, even though the only thing he knew about it was the title. Writers also agreed to add extra scenes and include Jackson specific dialogue in response to forum demands. Samuel L Jackson went on to make a speech about the film at MTV movie awards claim that Snakes On A Plane would be winning the award for best film the following year:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d4pvWg1hvc (bad language contained in this clip)
The studio also funded some clever marketing around the film – including a Samuel L Jackson call back mechanism where you could input a friends name and number into the Snakes On A Plane website and an automated Samuel L Jackson voiced call would be made to your nominated person, telling them to drop everything and go and see Snakes On A Plane straight away!
Despite all of this the film disappointed at the box office. Costing $30 million to make, New Line were hoping for more of a return than the $60 million it had made by the end of it’s worldwide theatrical release. A sequel seems unlikely......