The fangs are out for Snakes on a Plane, and probably for viral marketing too, given that the movie, which I think we can safely acknowledge had unprecedented buzz, pulled in a paltry $15 million at the box office over the weekend. The headlines read like this: “Snakes on a Plane Has Just Enough Box Office Bite for No. 1,” “Snakes on a Plane Fails to Charm Moviegoers,” and the metaphor deficient, “Snakes on a Plane Fails to Impress.” In one of the stranger bits of speculation about the movie’s lackluster performance, Brandon Gray, of boxofficemojo.com, says that its title was too straightforward. "This tells you that you need to have a compelling story or premise to get an audience for your movie," he told Reuters. If this wasn’t such a compelling premise, how come the mere thought that such a movie was coming out turned it into the consumer-generated media phenomenon of the year? I’d like to offer up a different theory as to why it only took only the Net, and not the picture house, by storm. I’m the sister of a herpetologist (that’s a person who studies reptiles and amphibians, class), and growing up with a 16-foot reticulated python (Sheba, RIP), three or so boa constrictors and a host of other assorted slithery things gave me special insight into how snakes can scare people—what’s the word?—why, shitless!!! Even when the snakes are in cages. (Yes, Mr. Water Meter Reader who refused to set foot in our basement—I mean you.) It’s one thing to watch a quick clip, or parody, about snakes on a plane on your computer, which you can click away from at any time. It’s another thing to be held hostage by your fear in a movie theater. Snakes on a plane? If the reactions my family witnessed over the years to our sweet little pets was any indication, snakes are just way too scary.
—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor