Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Power of 'Word of Mouth'

So the number one movie at the box office this week is the action thriller, "Snakes on a Plane". For those of you who don't know, don't worry, it's not a political thriller. No, this one is about a group of villains who decide to kill off a witness about to testify against them in court by unleashing endless numbers of snakes in the middle of flight. Hijinks ensues and Samuel L. Jackson comes out to kick butt. Now I haven't so fortunate as those who have gotten to see the movie but for whatever reason, this seems like a movie that should have gone straight to television without even stopping off at the theatres or on DVD. I've seen Hindi movies with better plots and with some of the movies being churned out these days, that's really saying something. So how is it then that this seemingly meritless movie ended up starring a cult movie icon and ended up sitting at the top of the box office for this past weekend? One word.... hype.

To read the story of how this movie got made brings to mind the story of "Rocky" and how Sylvester Stallone fought and fought and fought to get the film made. Although, I am somewhat doubtful (or maybe hopeful) that this movie doesn't get nominated for several Academy Awards. Unless of they have a new category, Most Overhyped Film. So why is this movie like "Rocky"? Well for years the script languished on various desks in Hollywood. No one seemed to be interested in the film and whether good or bad, it was left to be forgotten like so many other movies that never got made (or never should have gotten made). Indeed, it seemed as if this script would never see the light of day. Then it was picked up by MTV/Paramount before being handed off to NewLine, the studio behind the insanely popular "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Production began in earnest but the signing of Samuel L. Jackson made the hype behind the movie leap into heights heretofore unknown. Jackson has become the stuff of legend in Hollywood since his turn as Jules the assassin in "Pulp Fiction". Since that time, there is almost a cult-like status to any film he happens to turn up in. No matter what anyone says about his acting ability (or lack thereof some may say) there is no doubt that he is a box office draw. Once word leaked out that he was involved with the project, the hype began to gain momentum almost on its own.

Almost overnight there seemed to be a following for a movie which had not even been screened yet. Soon there were blogs and websites dedicated to the film. Every little bit of information that could be garnered on the film was soon thrust into the spotlight. Within a short time, the film had seemingly overshadowed every other forthcoming release. The film is coming out at the tail end of the summer when students are heading back to school and vacations are coming to an end. It can be a hit-or-miss time at the box office but the hype surrounding this movie ended up boosting its attendance records.

Whatever its faults and problems may be, the fact remains that a script that was started as a joke at a happy hour for screenwriters, is now in theatres worldwide. It is starring an Oscar nominated actor and is continuing to rake in the big bucks at the box office. I don't think we'll see numbers anywhere close to what some of the other summer blockbusters have pulled in so far but then again we don't need to. The fact that the movie has made it to the top of the charts in its first week is testament enough to the power of word of mouth advertising. It will make back its money in due course and I'm sure... in due course, a spate of sequels and copies will be released. Coming soon, "Hippos in a Helicopter"!



At 10:57 AM, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I saw this one, and you're right, it could easily have been made for Saturday afternoon TV .. but it's also a very fun movie, and one I thoroughly enjoyed watching in the theater


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