Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Snakes on the brain - when marketing works but the product does not

Everyone has Snakes on a Plane on the brain. I usually try to refrain from jumping in with my commentary on items like this but, I have five observations after the opening weekend.

First, it was not a number one with a bullet. It was more like number one with a rascal. The reason it squeaked into the number one spot is because it was released on Thursday evening and the shmeany $1.4 million that was booked on Thursday night put SOAP just ahead of new Will Ferrel “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” .

Second, after the reviews came in, it turns out that SOAP is just another B movie - not even good one at that. So, can this flick sustain another $15 million over next weekend? Nope. I'd bet it's more likely that you could actually get on a plane with a python in your carry-on carrying a beverage than to see this cinematic gem do the same thing at the box office next weekend. At the end of the day, the product itself failed to deliver - end of story.

Third, it was still a big huge success. Why? There is no fleeping way that this movie would ever have opened at #1 without the web. Never ever never ever never.... ever. This is an amazing feat. Without the attention from the blogosphere, consumer generated content and the conversations via social media, this film would likely have raked in $1.4 million for the entire weekend.

Fourth, let's all slip on our reality caps for a minute and ask ourselves if we really believe the film could have measured up to the buzz and word-of-mouth hype that was generated? Ok, good, I thought so.

And, my fifth and final observation; I predict a Halloween / Thanksgiving DVD and pay-per-view release that will do very. This time, without all the pre-release sensationalism.

Here is a snipet from CNN:
“The Internet buzz over “Snakes on a Plane” turned out to be nothing to hiss about. The high-flying thriller preceded by months of unprecedented Web buildup technically debuted as the No. 1 movie, but with a modest $15.25 million opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. Distributor New Line Cinema included $1.4 million that “Snakes on a Plane” raked in during 10 p.m. screenings Thursday to get a head start on the weekend. Without those revenues, the movie’s weekend total would be $13.85 million, putting it just behind “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” which took in $14.1 million in its third weekend. […] New Line’s Tuckerman said “Snakes on a Plane” would turn in a solid profit but that he did not know why the movie failed to live up to its Internet hype. ‘I think people were more excited about the marketing than the actual movie,’ said Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations. ‘New Line did not set out to create this Internet buzz. That’s actually a marketer’s dream, but when marketing translates into awareness but does not inspire people to get out from behind their computers and into the theater, that’s a problem.’” (CNN)

I found the above CNN quote on Adverb - shout out to Dallas Ad Monkey Mack Simpson who has a interesting blog that I enjoy quite a bit.

Ok, now everybody sing along....
"oh when the snakes,
go marching in,
oh when the snakes go marching in..."

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At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Ed Lee said...

Nice to see that some people have perspective on the phenom!

I heard that the production costs were some $25m and they spent another $20m on marketing (probably wasted to be honest). So if they make $35m worldwide, which seems to be a pretty low estimate then they 'only' need to make another $10m from DVD ppv merchandising etc to make a profit.

It's a little strange how people have been sucked into the hype and have started to think that this is a Superman Returns, $200m style big budget extravanganza and set their expectations accordingly.


At 2:34 PM, Blogger john dodds said...

It's worse than that. Having worked in that business, I can tell you that the ready reckoning for break-even for the studio is around 2.5 to 3.5 times
production and marketing spend because ticket revenue is split between exhibitor and distributor on a complex sliding scale (and thats before you factor in gross participations)


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