The box office disappointment, and subsequent rear view mirror gazing, of Snakes on a Plane opening weekend should really come as no surprise to marketers because there is one simple truth in advertising: no amount of buzz or hype will rescue an inferior product. And that is what SoaP is – a B-movie.
As I mentioned previously, New Line went far beyond interacting and engaging with the blogosphere, into content development based on what a tiny subset of the population told them they wanted to see – basically Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Jules, from Pulp Fiction battling snakes on a plane. Unfortunately, not everybody else wanted to see that movie. The Internet is one channel, albeit a powerful one, to reach customers. For a product that relies on mass-appeal however, ignoring TV and its ability to capture our imagination visually, in conjunction with other media, is risky. The problem for SoaP of course, was that it didn’t have a compelling storyline which could elevate it into the mainstream consciousness ala Blair Witch or My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the storyline it did have was modified to accommodate bloggers requests with an end result being a movie no one will tell their friends they have to see. Snakes on a Plane’s main selling point appears to be the, um, snakes on a plane and Sam Jackson. Is that enough to reach critical mass?
New Line could have leveraged the initial buzz created by bloggers and used that to supplement traditional movie advertising & focus on making a better film. I certainly hope the disappointing results for SoaP doesn’t turn studios against building relationships with the audience via a powerful medium, but instead provides them with valuable lessons learned that culture by committee does not equal innovation.