Okay, I swore up and down that I was not going to write another word about those everloving snakes, but I'd be truly remiss if I let this one slip by. I let it simmer for a couple days, thinking I'd be able to avoid it, but it's just stuck in my head like an annoying Britney Spears song, and it won't leave until I write it out, so here you go. Chuck Klosterman wrote a piece on Snakes on a Plane, and how its "create your own adventure" marketing might just, if the film proves financially successful, spell the End of Film as We Know It. Klosterman goes into a lengthy dissertation on the term "populism", presumably to prove his point that Snakes on a Plane is not a populist film, in spite of the best efforts of its handlers to make it so.
Klosterman is concerned that if the film makes a lot of money (which it likely will) despite being ridiculous (which it probably is, even if it stars Samuel L. Jackson), its success will make studios sit up and take notice, and then churn out more of the same. Well, duh. Studios churn out crap all the time based on the success of other crap. How else can one possibly explain the fact that people like Uwe Boll and the Wayans brothers continue to make films?p>Klosterman goes on to call SoaP "like a Wikipedia version of a movie". Why? Well, because New Line was going to change the title to the more respectable (and completely boring) Pacific Air Flight 121, but everyone, including Jackson, freaked out, so they didn't. Smart move, IMO -- do you honestly think anyone would be jazzed about seeing the film if it weren't called Snakes on a Plane? That's half the fun. Then he goes on to bemoan New Line sending cast and crew back to film more scenes after production had wrapped, including a scene that bloggers the world over had been demanding, with Jackson doing his best Jules impression, yelling, "I've had it with these mother-f***ing snakes on this mother-f***ing plane!" Hell, yeah. If anything is going to get my butt in a seat to see this thing (well, aside from my job reviewing movies, I mean), it's going to be to see Jackson going ballistic on some freaking snakes.
How is this different from what Kevin Smith has been doing for years -- listening to his audience and giving them what they want? And don't studios fairly often go back and shoot additional scenes after wrap? Maybe not every day, but it's certainly not unheard of. Klosterman seems to equate listening to the target audience with a categorical decision to throw every single thing the audience wants into the pot, but I just don't see keeping the title fun and campy, and filming some extra scenes as proof of his argument.
Here's what I think: I think Snakes on a Plane will be a huge success for New Line, and that it will easily turn a substantial profit. There are going to be some champagne corks popping and some people patting themselves on the back around there when all is said and done, and rightly so -- this has to be most brilliant job of marketing what will surely be a mediocre film that we've seen in years. I think the audiences going to see it will have a heck of a good time, because they aren't expecting to see an introspective, intelligent indie flick, they're going to see Samuel Jackson with some snakes on a damn plane. Period. We'll probably be subjected to an entire Snakes franchise over the next few years: Snakes on a Bus. Snakes on a Luxury Cruise. Snakes on a ... Hot Air Balloon.
Whatever. Those spin-offs won't do as well as the first, because it's the novelty and sheer chutzpah of marketing a film about snakes on a plane so enthusiastically that has people wanting to see it to begin with. And that will be that. It won't be the end of cinema as we know it, so put away your mourning clothes. Klosterman is just way overthinking this thing. The existence of Mickey D's and Chuck E. Cheese hasn't put an end to fine dining for those who want it, and neither does the existence of Snakes on a Plane sound the death knell for smart movies. There will still be plenty of smart, savvy filmmakers out there making films for film lovers, plenty of indie filmmakers pouring their hearts and creativity out for the sake of cinema. Film is art -- well, a lot of the time. Snakes is clearly not . But that's okay -- there's room for both.