Internet Hype Machine Lacking Venom?

(CBS/New Line)
Ned Lamont may have taken liberal bloggers to a whole new level in Connecticut but, when it comes to mass audiences, we still don't know just how effective all this Web hype can really be. Earlier this month, we discussed the possibility that the "Snakes on a Plane" Web phenomenon might give us some indication of how powerful the "new media" force has become. Well, now that we've gotten through the movie's opening weekend, we can say – well, what can we say? The USA Today's Scott Bowles says this:
So much for the Internet as movie producer.

After months of online buildup and frenzied media attention, Snakes on a Plane turned out to be just another horror flick. The Samuel L. Jackson movie did $15.3 million to rank No. 1 in an off weekend, according to studio estimates from Nielsen EDI.

That number included Thursday night screenings and fell $10 million short of many analysts' projections. It also was at the bottom range of expectations among New Line Cinema executives, who realized last week that their movie was not building momentum outside of the online community and tried to lower expectations.

The movie squeaked out a number one ranking but fell well below expectations. So, did all the "SoaP" blogging and fun help? It must have done some good. After all, would this movie even have approached the numbers it reached without all the hype? But Hollywood watchers are clearly not impressed:
For a horror film, the $30 million movie performed respectably. But analysts say that the movie's failure to match its hype may dispel the notion of the Internet as a wellspring of untapped moviegoers. Instead, they say, Snakes' performance demonstrates that cyberspace is simply another place to put movie ads.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Howard Dean was the darling of the left-wing bloggers. Like "SoaP" expectations, his legion of online "Deaniacs" were supposed to lift their guy to the nomination based on this connected community. Of course that all fizzled in a remarkable display but just two years later that same group of folks played a large role in defeating a United States Senator in his own party's primary. That suggests maybe Hollywood shouldn't be too dismissive the next time one of their films captures an audience's attention the way "SoaP" did.