The moment a lot of us have been waiting for, happens on Friday, August 18. No, not Ashok Chandra’s wedding. Or, Nate Irwin’s birthday. (But hey, good for both!) It’s the opening day for Snakes on a Plane. The Snakes phenomenon is a first of its kind, a “user-generated movie” in the age of a “user-generated” media revolution. Fans have done most of the work for New Line Cinema (but, Gordon Paddison at NL deserves his recent big promotion), creating Web sites, trailers, posters, merchandise, songs for the soundtrack, and even a line of dialogue. But, as Sean L. McCarthy asks in the Boston Herald: “New Line won’t screen ‘Snakes on a Plane’ for reviewers in advance, but does it matter if it screens at all?”
I’ll be out of town with Jarren (at the aforementioned wedding) when it opens, which means I won’t even get a chance to see it on its fabled opening weekend. Will I see it after this weekend, when I have an opportunity? I dunno, and that sentiment has got to be a concern for the people behind the film. Is anyone gonna see Snakes on a Plane after August 20? If it’s an entertaining film, of course. And that’s the wish that has both New Line Cinema, as well as audiences, crossing fingers.
Obviously, folks have already considered the possibility of: “How can someone make even more of a profit on a film like this without anyone seeing it? Would New Line pocket even more change on ancillary items, if the release date was pushed to October, December, or never?” Snakes on a Plane must be released, of course, in order for New Line Cinema to see any money, after all this hard work. But don’t doubt that in some office in some town, there are executives sitting around, trying to devise a way to turn this Snakes phenom into a new trend.
The Snakes opening will bring the climax of this year-long revolution, though what would happen if Snakes never opened at all? Does the phenomenon eventually run its course? Do you only have a fanatic following like this, if a release date is promised? Once the film is seen, the question of its quality will be answered. It’s that very question, and not the release, that has created such fervor. It’s the “emperor’s new clothes,” only we’re gonna get to see if we actually like the wardrobe. If the public got to see it, would we still like the emperor? In other words, maybe it’s not this weekend that will be the real test for Snakes on a Plane. The following weekend, August 25, is gonna send a message to the industry. And, from that, conventional studio wisdom might be altered. Or, we’ll all just get ready for the next thing for fanboys to get excited over.