'Snakes' Charms Cyberspace

Snakes on a plane samuel jackson snake CBS/New Line

This story was written by CBS News.com's Melissa McNamara



What's not to like? Hundreds of venomous snakes are released on a commercial airline flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles.

Based on this simple plot line, "Snakes on a Plane," starring Samuel L. Jackson, has become an Internet sensation. The New Line Cinema movie isn't due out until mid-August, but a horde of online film critics have already declared it to be a smash hit.

And why not? You've seen the snake movies. You've seen the terror-in-the-sky flicks. Now — at last — Hollywood has put the two together in one late-summer B movie.

"When the movie has the chutzpah to actually name itself by its ridiculously campy, C-movie logline (a one-sentence summation of a script) then how can you not love it?" says Seth Abramovitch, associate editor of the popular gossip blog, Defamer.com.

"Snakes" has inspired online songs, music videos, apparel, poster art, parody films, and mock movie trailers (the real trailer won't be released until May). Several companies are busily turning out "Snakes on a Plane" T-shirts.

It's just about unheard of for a Hollywood studio to do no publicity for such a film and to have the buzz for the flick reach epic proportions a year before it is released. But that's exactly what's happened with "SoaP" as the film is known on the Internet.

The term "Snakes on a Plane" has even entered the lexicon. Urbandictionary.com describes it as "a simple existential observation that has the same meaning as 'Whaddya gonna do?' "

The online buzz has been so intense that the producers went back for five more days of shooting months after "Snakes" was complete, says Ray Richmond, a critic and entertainment columnist for The Hollywood Reporter.

The largely young and male "Snakes" fans expressed deep disappointment with the film's PG-13 rating. The extra shooting fixed the problem: "Snakes" now has R rating.

One line in particular is said to have been added to appease the movie's youthful online fans. One "Snakes" aficionado, Chris Rohan of Bethesda, Md., created an well-received R-rated audio trailer that uses a Jackson sound-alike shouting, "I want these motherf***ing snakes off the motherf***ing plane!"

While the movie's director, David Ellis, has been hesitant to directly attribute that line to bloggers, there's no denying it now appears in the movie.

The film features Jackson as an FBI agent guarding a witness who is flying to Los Angeles to testify at the trial of a crime lord. But there's more than frequent flier miles in the future for this pair. The mob boss arranges for hundreds of hungry serpents to come slithering into the cabin.

"You see this type of buzz for movies like 'Star Wars,' 'Lord of the Rings,' typical big blockbusters," says Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "But for a film that's a very high concept horror film with a solid cast, it's unusual."

  • Melissa McNamara

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