The Real History of Snakes on a Plane

Dan Strohschein

Snakes on a plane. The first time I heard the title I started laughing. Below is how the conversation between me and a friend went when he told me about the movie.

"It's a hot new movie, called Snakes on a Plane!" My friend said.

"It's a spoof like Scary Movie, right?" I asked my friend. He shook his head.

"No, it's a real horror flick," he responded.

"Uh... the snakes are demonic or phantoms or something? Or is it plane like as in another dimension?" I asked.

 "No, Real snakes on a real plane. Wouldn't that be scary?" he asks, smiling.

 "Not unless you're a retard with a drool cup, or one of those paranoid guys who can't touch doorhandles without sanitized gloves on," I say to him.

His smile falters. "It's going to be one of the best films of 2006. The internet says so!" he proudly proclaims.

It went downhill from there, sorta evolving into a shouting match about which Megaman was tougher. Don't ask. The sad part is that it's the truth. A lot of people have been snowballed by a bunch of marketing geniuses who sit up on the 53rd story of a building in New York and think about ways of snowballing people. And the hype is simple - if you didn't know the "story" you wouldn't know the hype. And without the hype, the movie sounds like... well like it would have been better off going straight to DVD. It reminded me of the other ridiculous titles and ideas that have somehow managed to gather to themselves a cult following (Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bikini Car Wash Alien Ninja Werewolves - oh wait, that last one I made up).

The story behind Snakes on a plane is that a professor from the University of Pittsburgh, David Dalessandro, wrote the storyline after reading a magazine about Brown Snakes. There was a story in it about how these snakes would climb aboard world war II planes. His first draft of the screenplay was called Venom, about a brown snake. The second draft was about a poisonous snake that gets loose on a plane.

Then he expanded it again, to be many snakes loose on a plane. He took the completed screenplay and shopped it around to different studios, and was rejected by all of them. Four years after that, Paramount and MTC looked at it, then passed it on to New Line, who hired some writers to rewrite the screenplay into what it currently is now.

This is where the story becomes hype. Supposedly at this point, several internet blogs had released information on the film. This generated a lot of fans, and a cult following, which dictated how the film was actually made. The story says that in March, New Line had been bugged so much by fans that they reshot the footage for an extra five days to add new scenes (and Samuel Jackson's crude catch phrase).

So how did this "giant fan base" start? From Script writer Jason Friedman's blog. Interestingly enough, he was the one pegged to first re-write the script.

Personally I don't believe there was ever a huge fan base of internet junkies before the movie was announced. It's not below marketing professionals to say that something is popular in order to get people to follow by inventing a fan base, or inventing hype.

Something like "Dude, have you heard about Bikini Car Wash Alien Ninja Werewolves? It's HUGE in hollywood right now. There are millions of fans and they have clips. You know it all started on the internet by a mysterious anonymous writer. He wrote the screenplay on his deathbed and his widow posted it on the net! So many people loved it that now it's a huge success!"

And then all the sheep out there who have to be on the next big thing jump on board, grab as much info as they can, and then perpetuate the story to the next person, because well, THEY want to be the first to break the big news about the next big thing. It's predictable human behavior that marketing professionals eat up like the fat kid eats candy corn at halloween - by the truck load.

Will it be THE next big movie? Naw, it's no where near the strength that say, Spiderman or Lord of the Rings was. All this stuff is just marketing hype, and in two months the only people who are going to remember that it even came out are going to be the four fanboys it creates.

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