Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Snakes on a M*th*rf*ck*ng Plane: Remember all the hype that surrounded the marketing of the Blair Witch Project, which was presented as the first example of a movie that used the power of the Internet to generate buzz. Well get ready for Snakes on a Plane, which is an example of next generation movie marketing, in which the Internet becomes a tool for collaboration between the film-makers and their audience. And like BWP, SoaP offers interesting lessons for marketers of other, more mainstream products.

For those of you less excited by lowbrow pop culture than I am, I should probably begin with a little background. Snakes on a Plane (SoaP, as it is now known in the blogosphere) had its genesis before the events of 9-11, and was shelved after the terrorist attacks, which put a damper on movies about terror on board jets. But it was revived and eventually wrapped at the end of 2005.

But the movie scored some early publicity when screenwriter Josh Friedman—who was called in to do some rewrites—blogged about it: “I ask Agent the name of the project, what it’s about, etc. He says: ‘Snakes on a Plane.’ Holy shit, I’m thinking. 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.”

Others shared Friedman’s enthusiasm for the title and the concept, and Snakes on a Plane became an online phenomenon, with blogs dedicated to the movie, fan fiction, fake promotional posters and audio clips, parody films, and songs.

All of the Internet buzz prompted New Line to go back and film some additional footage, and to incorporate a line suggested by one online fan, with Jackson announcing: “I want these motherfucking snakes off the motherfucking plane!” It also generated a contest on Tagworld, a site for unsigned musicians, offering the winning artist a chance to have his or her music featured in the film.

SoaP could be the first movie produced as an act of collaboration between moviemakers and fans.

In an interview with Time magazine, Jackson gave his perspective on the fan phenomenon: “Personally, I think it’s great. They saved the movie.” When the actor first signed on, he and director David Ellis agreed that people who like the title are probably not easily offended. But when Jackson arrived for shooting, the script had been neutered to garner a PG-13 rating. “They restricted my cursing and restricted the gore. It was kind of a waste of time.”

“I have no ego,” says Ellis. “You have to be smart enough to collaborate with everybody when you’re making a movie, so why not work with the people you’re making the movie for?”

That’s a philosophy that could be extended across a wide range of product categories.


  • At 2:04 PM, Blogger Mike Sacks said…

    The movie doesn't do it for me really, the premise just isn't my style. But I do find the promotional techniques fascinating. I would like to propose that any movie-goer who affects the production of a film should get a piece of those outrageous ticket prices. Any takers out there you big time studio execs? Yeah, I didn't think the collaboration would go quite that far.


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