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David Poland

By David Poland

Why Snakes On A Plane Changing Dates Makes No Sense

So. there is now this hum out there… “If I had Snakes On A Plane getting all this online buzz, I’d jump on it and put it out right away!”
The most obvious reason not to leap as though choices were free, specific to New Line, is called The Real Cancun. New Line got excited about the film after some strong early screenings. They rushed it into theaters, trying to catch a wave, and got slaughtered for their effort… more because they had to overspend on ads because there was no time for a proper publicity campaign. You can say, “But that film sucked” all you like. But for one thing, you have no idea of Snakes is any good. And second, test screening audiences really liked Cancun.
This is the arrogance of the media, on and off the web. If it’s on our radar, it must be on everyone’s radar. Well, it isn’t. As I have always said, the internet geek audience is worth $5 million – $8 million. If you want more than that, you have to reach the rest of the audience. And the trend in youth oriented movies is great success with looooooong lead campaigns and not quick hits.
To go into the summer, May-July, would be idiotic on every level. It’s incredibly expensive to get attention and if people are into Snakes On A Plane, they might also be the audience for, say…. I’m just guessing here… M:I3PoseidonX3NachoLibreClickSupermanPirates2. Those are 7 sure-fire MUST SEES in 10 weeks… all grounded in the same Snakes demographic… most reaching far beyond.
And besides the fact that New Line already is selling an April movie and has a May release on their schedule, ramping up a full campaign while still making changes in post is like throwing money into the garbage and then pulling the can into your living room, next to the drapes, before setting it on fire.
And where is the obvious argument for an August release of Snakes? A $16 million opening and a $58 million domestic gross for Red Eye. If New Line is lucky and good, they can improve on that opening. If they are good at selling and the movie is actually entertaining and they can find a way to get someone with a vagina in the door, they could take that better start and reach a similar 4x multiple.
But most importantly of all… and this speaks to much of what I feel about the media’s rush to push this industry into fulfilling our whims with their hundreds of millions of dollars… the excitement of the film is not going away because some journalists just figured it out. Snakes will be a great media story in July, when the hard push starts. And it will be the change of pace movie after a steady diet of very expensive big action films (which incidentally, is also the strategy on Miami Vice).
When did very smart, very experienced people turn into hyperactive puppies licking the glass as soon as they get a whiff of dinner? As Samuel L. Jackson once said, by way of QT, “Come on, Yolanda! What’s Fonzie like?” “Cool..” What? “Cool.” “Correctamundo! And that’s what we’re gonna be – We’re gonna be cool.”

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56 Responses to “Why Snakes On A Plane Changing Dates Makes No Sense”

  1. Stella's Boy says:

    I’m not saying your reasoning is wrong Dave, but can you really compare the buzz currently surrounding Snakes on a Plane (or SOAP) to that of The Real Cancun? I don’t remember Cancun having any buzz at all. I don’t remember people excitedly talking about it prior to its release. I didn’t know anyone who wanted to see it. It seemed to be here and gone in seconds. Even if there was some positive buzz prior to Cancun’s release, surely it wasn’t five months before it was even released, and surely it didn’t approach the levels of insanity than can currently be found in geek land.

  2. David Poland says:

    I’m not suggesting that they are in the same place. But to rely on the current buzz is to say, “We think this movie can’t crack $20 million.” Because with the current real level of buzz – as opposed to the peak in media and web awareness – the film would be unlikely to open to more than $6 million.
    And again… the enthusiasm isn’t going anywhere. AND New Line is changing the movie to maximize the opportunity created. That is the smart move. Rushing it into theaters is suicide.

  3. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah that makes sense. SOAP seems like an August movie all the way, and outside of the geeks the awareness must be extremely low to non-existent right now. Shaun of the Dead had enough geek love for 10 movies but no one else saw it. Same with Serenity. And probably Slither.

  4. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    I think a better example than CANCUN would be EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS which had huge internet buzz and switched release dates and then performed pretty damn well for a cheesy bmovie but below studio expectations that thought the geek buzz would add an additional 30m.

  5. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Also for some unknown reason a healthy part of that buzz for SOAP is actually confusion over whether this its a real project or not.

  6. Tofu says:

    SoaP is such a August release it isn’t even funny.
    The internet geek audience? I’ll round it up to $10 million. However, what about the total internet audience itself?

  7. martin says:

    Snakes is pure Anaconda-hope-not-Lake-Placid.

  8. palmtree says:

    I think what has gotten the execs into a tizzy is that they didn’t even have to try to get any buzz going. The internet did that for them. So the logic goes, if they try, then it will add on to those that were already sold.
    And I think there’s a little underestimation of the film geek audience. This is not a superhero or cult idea. It’s something that can be more easily accepted in other quarters. Is it a movie about terrorism, about man versus beast, about the fear of flying?
    However, I agree moving it up is stupid.

  9. Aladdin Sane says:

    No one at my work has heard of it, and they’re all the types that know about movies because of previews they see at theaters. And since there are no SoaP previews, nobody I was mentioning it to the other day cared. Online is the only place buzzing it, and that’s not gonna impact the everyday folks. While I’d love to see it tomorrow, cos I think it’ll be fun, it is an August release. I think it’ll be fine. As long as New Line creates a great trailer that is…

  10. palmtree says:

    I don’t think it’s buzz in the sense that everyone and their mom has heard of it. It is buzz in the sense that it is a great title that has a memetic power, i.e. memorable, catchy, evocative. It’s created a whole fanbase out of scratch. How big or small that is is up for debate, but the fact is without doing much to stoke the flames, the title and a major star attached has etched itself into a part of culture. But like Mr. Poland, I agree that it needed until August for the fruits of those seeds to fully ripen.

  11. jesse says:

    Dave, I agree with you 100% that they should not shift the release date. This movie has third-weekend-in-August in its DNA. It’s very much in the tradition of the “versus” movies we’d been getting — Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator… this is Sam Jackson vs. Snakes. Titles where it absolutely doesn’t matter if the movie is much good; they only need to deliver on the very, very simple promise of the title. Did aliens fight predators? Yes? $80 million. Will there be snakes on the plane? Yes? $80 million. MAYBE if there had been this kind of buzz in December-January, a move up to April might — MIGHT — have made sense. But it’s practically April now, and there is no good place for this movie on the release schedule (unless they wanted to push it up a week or two earlier in August, which would be pointless). 8/18 is perfect timing.
    However, I think you underestimate the current audience for this — I really don’t think it’s strictly a nerd thing. I also think there’s a large hipster contingent reacting to this movie. I know plenty of non-nerds who have totally heard of it and are totally going. That’s like saying “Lazy Sunday” was an fanboy/nerd phenom. I mean, of course hardly anyone over the age of 30 has seen it and a “viral” sensation doesn’t necessarily reach as many people as, say, an ad buy on ABC (or even NBC). But it’s not just nerds out on the net! Yes, the media is more aware than the general population, but awareness is spreading.
    And RE: getting women to see it? I think it’s a hell of an easier battle than getting women to see something not so easily explaned, like HELLBOY or LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. Chicks dig thrillers. Chicks (of a certain age) dig horror, and there are certainly horror elements to SOAP. I don’t think New Line has to really worry about that.
    But, back to agreeing with you — there is pretty much zero downside to New Line holding 8/18. Could a bunch of bloggers and nerds and hipsters get tired of it before then? Yeah, it’s certainly possible. But they’re counting down to the damn thing! Is “Snakes on a Blog” just going to quietly shut down in mid-June? I’m guessing not.

  12. jeffmcm says:

    Is anyone actually excited about seeing Poseidon? It looks big and impressive and kind of dumb and boring…not unlike Troy. I predict it’ll make money on the basis of its early-summer release date and if it was coming out in June or July it would plummet based on Event Movie Fatigue.

  13. palmtree says:

    Poseidon looks…okay. I mean, it evokes Titanic and has a “Lost” kind of appeal (strangers stuck together trying to get out). I for one think it will get to 100 mil.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    Sure it will…but if it tops out at $100 then it’ll be seen as a pretty big disappointment, given that the budget is somewhere around $150m (and then international box office will save it).

  15. MattM says:

    Poseidon has a pile-up problem. All four weekends in May have openers that are expected to open to at least 40M (MI3, Poseidon, Da Vinci Code, and X-Men 3.) One of those is going to tank, and Poseidon is the safest bet unless Cruise does something really, really stupid between now and then. Also, Poseidon faces girl competition that week with “Just My Luck.”
    What’s odd is that you’ve got this utter pileup in May, while there’s a wide open weekend in June (6-16) with minimal competition (F&F3 and “The Lake House”). That’d be a sensible weekend for someone to move to.

  16. David Poland says:

    Lazy Sunday is a geek/fanboy/e-mail phenom. 20 million people might have heard about it in the 3 weeks after it happened, but how many have really watched the whole thing? And though iTunes offers no actual stats, you can be sure that fewer than 50,000 people paid to download the piece… and it’s been out of the “Top 20” in sales since the second week it was available.
    Even more so, because of the speed of removing it from the free web, fewer people than saw SNL’s third hour that night have probably seen Natalie Portman’s rap.
    Now and again, there is a broad phenomenon, like JibJab’s This Land Is Your Land. But Shaun of The Dead’s $13 million haul reminds us all… web buzz is good for no more than $7 million in box office. That’s a lot of money. It tills the soil. But it’s nothing in comparison to what ads do.

  17. palmtree says:

    Yeah, Mr. Poland…totally agree with that.
    Except…this buzz is not about content. Jib Jab, Shaun, Lazy Sunday were all content-oriented buzz. Snakes on a Plane is the beneficiary of, for lack of a better term, title-oriented buzz. In other words, it is a catchy title that will spread when the trailer hits and civilians hear about it. I mean, just try to say the title to someone and not laugh…it resonates in a way wholly distinct from its eventual story, acting, special effects, etc.

  18. palmtree says:

    Oh wait…that is rather similar to your argument isn’t it?
    To state more simply my point, the SoaP phenom is not some much in getting people to go see it as much as it is a small free focus group that New Line has been able to tap into and figure out what will work on a small scale and then bring it to the masses. That may not add up to crap-load of box office, but if it does, it could signal an empowering of web denizens in shaping what movies they get.

  19. Spacesheik says:

    The POSEIDON trailers look phenomenal – this isn’t going to be a cheesy ripoff. Looks like it could be a crowd-pleasing action epic.
    I for one think it will hit a minimum of $150 million.
    MI3 I’m not excited about, not because it doesn’t look good – it does, but because I sense a lot of Tom Cruise fatigue out there. Without tripods and Spielberg, this film won’t do gnagbuster business. My prediction: $150 million tops.
    SUPERMAN RETURNS – The initial trailer looked soft, the John Williams score and the Brando voiceover helped but it didn’t quite send exciting vibes. The finished product might be great, I don’t know. Let’s assume its great, I still don’t see it going beyond $200 million.
    NACHO LIBRE – Unfunny trailer, funny premise. This movie ain’t no DODGEBALL ($120 million). I can see it doing SCHOOL OF ROCK numbers ($75 million or so).
    DA VINCI CODE – Potentially could do $200.
    XMEN 3: Like MI3, I sense fatigue with the franchise. Tops at $175 million.

  20. EDouglas says:

    I agree that August is a good time for this movie. As much as I like Dave Ellis’ style, I doubt the movie is that good… the snakes look really cheesy and it seems to be played for laughs. I think New LIne should be careful that they don’t wear out the novelty by trying to inundate the web with junk… It’s too bad that Slither didn’t have such a great title.

  21. jesse says:

    Dave, I wasn’t saying that “Lazy Sunday” is on the level of “American Idol” or even an episode of “House.” Internet phenoms aren’t yet the same as other mass-media phenoms. But at the same time, an internet phenom is no longer exclusive to fan-boys! “Lazy Sunday” was something that was emailed around offices, not a particularly nerd-centric thing. I guess I just find your (lack of) distinction between “geek/fanboy buzz” and “internet buzz” sort of fuzzy.
    Also, I’m not sure what this means:
    “20 million people might have heard about it in the 3 weeks after it happened, but how many have really watched the whole thing?”
    Um, I’m guessing a lot. Maybe not 20 million, but it’s all of two minutes long! Who do you suppose makes up the demographic of people who have heard of “Lazy Sunday” but … only watched half of it? Maybe some older folks read about it in Newsweek and didn’t bother watching, but I’m puzzled by the idea of watching “the whole thing.”

  22. jesse says:

    Spacesheik, I doubt that an entry in the disaster-action genre, which seemed more in vogue in the late 90s, will outgross established franchises like MI3 and X3. I can see Poseidon hitting, but it’s not doing itself any favors with that May date. MattM mentions that Poseidon is the most likely to tank unless Cruise does something stupid, and Spacesheik, you mention Cruise fatigue… I’d say that stuff would be a greater factor if the movie was releasing later in the summer. But it’s in the summer kickoff slot… no way this thing is opening to under $50 million, and inflation (among other things) will probably put it in the same monetary range of the first two (I mean, does anyone really love the second one? And yet it outgrossed the first by close to $40 million).
    I don’t think there’s X-Men fatigue — the movies have been spaced out well. I think the three-year gap between sequels is ideal. Not so long that it’s a ridiculous wait during which audiences lose interest; not so quick that it seems like we just saw the first one.
    So both of those #3s should solidly make at least as much as their first installments, maybe as much as their seconds.
    Oh, and Da Vinci code will be huge. I’m guessing it will open in the $70 mil range. Harry Potter for adults! (Which may be evidence that many children are, in fact, smarter than their parents.)
    I’m sensing a “meh” (for DreamWorks) gross for Over the Hedge, though. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s got the computer-animation market to itself, like Madagascar did, but I can see it topping out at 150-160 million. When did all comp-animated movies get *so* similar? Chattering animals out of their element (be that in the wild or out). Bleh.

  23. palmtree says:

    I have to say that Spacesheik is onto something. The Showest materials look rather good, emotional, tense, everything that it should be. By contrast, people have been harping on X3’s problems for a long time. The Take a Stand campaign isn’t all that effective I’m afraid. And on top of that, the audience that P can generate en masse as opposed to other action/superhero fare is women. 150 is a good call, though how much more than that is up for grabs.

  24. Eric says:

    Mission Impossible 3 will be an underperformer in this country. The trailer doesn’t offer anything you can’t get out of a good episode of 24.
    And X-Men 3 will suffer from the absence of Bryan Singer. The audience can sense a change like that, and they will stay away if they think the franchise is being exploited for a quick buck.
    I expect Poseidon to pick up plenty of business from those two. People know the premise, but will react well to the fact that it’s not a cookie-cutter sequel.

  25. Eric says:

    And Jesse, you’re right about Over the Hedge. Isn’t everyone just tired of this crap?

  26. Nicol D says:

    “Oh, and Da Vinci code will be huge. I’m guessing it will open in the $70 mil range. Harry Potter for adults! (Which may be evidence that many children are, in fact, smarter than their parents.)”
    That’s a really funny line. It made me choke on my lunch.
    I think Da Vinci will be huge also. Many adults really love the ‘documentary’ genre now.

  27. James Leer says:

    It’s really weird to hear DP tout “New Media” and the internet constantly (and tear down old media as in the recent post about the LA Times selling a photo book) then turn around in this post and essentially slag on it as a place for nerds and fanboys.
    “Lazy Sunday” was an internet phenomenon that virtually every semi-aware person under 30 has seen. You got to a house party, ask “Who’s seen Lazy Sunday?” and I guarantee everyone will say they have, and the very few that haven’t will still be aware of it. How many people watched the whole thing? Uh, all of them. It’s short.
    As for its diminished ranking on iTunes, that’s because everyone was able to see it for free back when it was massively popular — there’s no need for them to now pay to download it. Plus, when iTunes first made it available, it WAS free.
    As for SoaP, I basically agree that it should stay in August, but I think DP is going way too far to prove his point. If it got moved up, “the film would be unlikely to break $6 million”??? NO WAY. There is NO WAY that film would struggle to hit $6 million. I was frankly shocked that you would print that, as an astute observer of the box office.
    And, speaking of house parties, I was at one on Saturday and overheard two girls talking about “Snakes on a Plane”…one brought it up, the other excitedly responded, “Snakes on a motherfucking plane!” I must agree that its hipster aura is tremendous right now.

  28. jesse says:

    Eric, I guess I’m venturing into personal-opinion territory here, but I think both MI3 trailers so far have been great, insofar as showcasing the film’s potential kickassery. My impression from both was “whoa, did JJ do a super-awesome job??” … I’m getting the impression that he did. For a Mission: Impossible movie, anyway (I really like the first one, meh about the second one).
    About X3… audiences can sense the change? Really? I don’t know. The people most hyper-aware of X3’s potential suck factor are the nerds like you and me who will probably see it regardless! I’d guess the average moviegoer could not tell you who Bryan Singer is or what he directed. And the X3 trailers do a good job of making the film *look* like the other two. Honestly, if *I* saw those trailers cold, with no knowledge of who was making the movie, I don’t know that I’d say “oh, Singer’s gone.” The movie may suck, but it seems possible that Ratner is just doing a decent Singer impression. I don’t think the movie will give off a “quick buck” aura when it’s coming out *three years* after X2… I think people will see explosions, Jackman as Wolverine, and a bunch of mutants kicking ass, and they’ll buy tickets to the tune of $180 mil or more. Come on, if moviegoers can smell a cheap cop-out, how did Fantastic Four get to almost 160?!
    I’m not exactly arguing that Poseidon won’t do well, but I don’t think it will take business away from MI3 (which will drop 50% second weekend if it’s anywhere from mediocre to decent; only something great or awful will change that), or X3 (which comes out during Poseidon’s third weekend). And that, as the only non-brand-name (comics, TV, books, DreamWorks animation) mega-release of May, it’s probably the riskiest proposition.
    Incidentally, anyone know how much they’re spending on X3? (I’m honestly curious.)

  29. jeffmcm says:

    People not hyper-obsessed with movie news, aka regular people, are looking forward to X3; the most recent trailer is actually pretty good and got the crowd I saw V for Vendetta with excited.
    That’s Brett Ratner’s specialty, it seems; in the absence of any style or directorial voice of his own, he’s quite good at aping other, better directors (see his Ridley Scott impersonation in Red Dragon to see what I mean)

  30. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Why do fans of X1 & X2 start foaming over Ratner’s ability to deliver a decent X3? Did they see the same film called X2 that I did – the incredibly overblown, boring as all hell, limp leather dick of a movie? X3 can only be an improvement.
    POSIEDON will also pull large audiences because the ghost of Irwin is alive and well and this film has none of the stench of the late 90s disaster imitators. This has an old school vibe and even though I saw the original 5 times in the cinema, I’ll still be lining up for it. And is there a better tortured heroic lead than Russell around?
    Don’t be surprised about the Cruise haters affecting Mi3’s numbers – they are out there and they are legion. He really is one of the most hated individuals since Bin Laden – 9 out of 10 dentists hate him.
    NACHO LIBRE – the reps at Universal told me this film is going to play wide and large. Are they on crack? Unless this is one of the most ingenious anti-marketing campaigns of all time – i’m not getting it. The trailer is flat and from all accounts the film is too try hard.

  31. Hopscotch says:

    Daredevil looked like pure imitation crap to me…and it had a $45MM opening weekend. But it’s final gross was right at $100MM. So if X3 truly blows, we’ll tell in the final gross.
    Snakes on a Plane will do similar numbers as AVP, is my bet. No one walked into AVP expecting ANYTHING, I expect the same thing with SoaP.

  32. Hopscotch says:

    The audience demo that Cruise has alienated the most is women. MI:3 is a boys movie. So, I don’t think it’s gross will be hurt too bad. If Paramount is smart they’ll start emphasizing more on the supporting players (outside of PSH).
    I think the Poseidon trailer sold me. I was never too anxcious to see it, but now it doesn’t look too bad.
    But the highest grossing movies this summer are Pirates of the Carribean 2 and Superman Returns. Done and done. I still think Da Vinci could sneak up there, but I’m not blown away by any of its advertisements just yet.

  33. Cadavra says:

    Could we just call it SNAKES? Every time I read “SOAP” I momentarily think they’re making a movie of the sitcom!

  34. Eric says:

    Re: MI3, I think the trailers were fine but suggest nothing special. (I will admit that I am underwhelmed by the work of JJ Abrams.) That combined with the Cruise backlash will hurt the movie. And they can only use that awesome theme so many times before it loses its effect.
    It will not bomb– it will open decently, thanks to its summer opener slot, but it will quickly be forgotten.
    Re: X3. You’re right, there is a built-in audience. But, if memory serves, the reason that X2 did so well was its surprising quality– it had good legs. It was a real improvement on its predecessor. I have no such expectations of X3. Again, I expect a good opening and a quick fade. History will not be kind to this one.
    I expect the winners for the summer to be Pirates 2 and Da Vinci. Superman will be good, may not make as much as it should, and will hopefully lay the groundwork for a kick-ass sequel.

  35. MattM says:

    The trailer for Nacho Libre looks like they spent all of five bucks on it. That said, Jack Black + writers and directors of the immensely overrated but insanely beloved “Napoleon Dynamite” will get butts in seats.

  36. palmtree says:

    I’d really like to see more of Ms. Monaghan in MI3. Fell in love with her in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
    They should totally do Soap the sitcom movie. Was way ahead of its time and now possibly we’ve caught up.

  37. Nicol D says:

    The biggest question mark of the summer for me is Superman. My gut says it will do three hundred in its sleep…but I am meeting more and more people who are not excited and think Routh and Bosworth are way too young.
    Many also do not like the whole Lois as single mom concept. It plays with the mythology a bit too much.

  38. jeffmcm says:

    Routh and Bosworth are indeed way too young, especially to have a kid…Bosworth is only 23!
    I personally wish Singer had stuck with X3, because I think that instead of one really good X-Men movie we’re going to get two mediocre/flawed superhero movies.

  39. Lynn says:

    “So. there is now this hum out there… “If I had Snakes On A Plane getting all this online buzz, I’d jump on it and put it out right away!””
    OMG — of *course* you put it out in August. Duh. Comic-Con is the third weekend in July. Geek prom! How much you want to bet that Samuel L. Jackson is there? (I’m going with a friend who’s promoting a book, so I let you know 🙂
    I have heard that Superman is good. 🙂 I am surprised there isn’t a real trailer yet, though. They were still showing the teaser before V for Vendetta.
    Before which I also saw the Pirates trailer, and I was surprised there isn’t more of Johnny Depp, but holding his best lines is probably a very good idea.
    I am not the least bit excited about Poseidon. The best thing about Troy was Eric Bana (well, and Sean Bean, except for his unfortunate hair) and I don’t see anyone like that in Poseidon. I do hope Wolfgang has learned some basic geography since Troy… such as Sparta not having a port on account of being, you know, *landlocked* and all. If he hasn’t, God knows what’s going to happen to that boat 🙂
    I am sick of Tom Cruise but love JJ, so I will support his movie. Bah.
    Miami Vice. I am having trouble remembering the last time I felt less enthusiastic about something Michael Mann was involved in. Bah again.
    And since I’ve got everything in here but the kitchen sink, did you guys see that the extended version of KoH that DP raved about is coming out on DVD on May 23? It’s a 4 disc set and it looks like the extras are new, too. I’m delighted as I didn’t think we’d see this before Christmas. A big anti-bah. 🙂

  40. jeffmcm says:

    They’ll save their big Superman trailer for Poseidon.

  41. palmtree says:

    Good call, Jeff. It’s way too early for a full Superman trailer and WB will piggyback their own stuff. But to be honest, another teaser wouldn’t hurt as the current one didn’t really do it for me.

  42. Stella's Boy says:

    I get a Day After Tomorrow vibe from Poseidon. A few impressive FX shots and not much else.

  43. jesse says:

    I guess I see “big opening, forgotten quickly” as sort of the cinematic MO for the Mission: Impossible franchise so far. People go to see them, but they’re not leggy $300mil grossers. I can’t see why MI3 would be any different, but maybe the Cruise backlash is bigger than I think.
    As for X2’s supposed legs: Incorrect, actually. If I’m remembering right, X2 opened to like $80 million and while it got good reviews and good fan reactions and all that, it *didn’t* have extraordinary legs — it got to about $215 mil, which is a multiplier of less than three! It was mostly getting the typical 50% drop-offs.
    Not that I don’t think it was a well-liked movie — I just think this was a case of most of the hardcore people seeing it upfront. Same thing with the original — decent reviews, big opening, satisfied customers… but 50% drops regardless. As such, X3 doesn’t necessarily need legs to get in striking range of its predecessors. It’ll do its $75-90 over the long weekend, and that’ll be the running start it needs to get into the high hundreds/low two-hundreds.
    Jeffrey Boam’s Doctor, I’m surprised (but sort of intrigued) by your intense dislike of X2. I found it slightly choppy — I actually think it could’ve used some lengthened scenes and an extra 10-15 minutes of running time overall — and I took some offense from those who called it a vast improvement over the original, simply because I really, really like the original. But the two X-Men movies together are up there with the Spiderman pair, Batman Begins, and Batman Returns, as my favorite superhero pictures (strange how they come in twos, sort of).
    I don’t think Superman is a sure thing for huge numbers, not at all. I mean, it’ll certainly get over $100 million on spectacle/curiosity/name recognizition/good release-date positioning. But I can definitely see it underperforming. I like the teaser, but I’ve seen it with some huge audiences — Vendetta IMAX, Potter opening night — and witnessed consistently mixed-to-indifferent reactions.
    And guys, I dunno, I think Nacho Libre looks amusing. Not fantastic, maybe a little too Hessily mannered… but funny. But then, I really liked Napoleon Dynamite.

  44. palmtree says:

    Superman only doing 100 is a major flop. In fact, if it doesn’t do 100 in its first weekend, I would be worried.

  45. David Poland says:

    JL – OPEN to $6 million…
    The funny thing about summer movies that have a sure-fire sampling on opening weekend is that the films do matter in terms of the multiple of opening. I hope Poseidon is as fun as the original. It is takes itself too seriously, it could die quick. Or it could be SWAT or more.
    If Snakes does AVP business, NL will be thrilled. But there is no way it opens to that before a quality multi-month marketing and publicity effort.

  46. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    totally agree with Dave – SNAKES doesn’t have the inbuilt core fanbase that both ALIENS and PREDATOR has – what it has is the ridiculous title that puts it in the same league as Boa vs Python except with a cool lead and the best 2nd unit director in the world at the helm. It’s got 40m-45m written all over it if its lucky.
    Jesse – I don’t think I’m alone in my X2 analysis. I thought the first film was great snappy entertainment that had a sense of fun about it. The sequel was so dreadfully earnest that it drained the enjoyment out of it for me – I became listless after the first hour when I realised there were no surprises coming and much of it felt padded for self importance. I honestly despised the film a lot – it just felt forced and the pacing of the film was terrible. No movie about people in tights should be more than 100m.

  47. jeffmcm says:

    Even the original Superman at 143 minutes or Batman Begins at 140?
    Over two hours is the traditional norm for event superhero movies. I felt like X-Men 1 would have been improved if it could have been a little more fleshed-out; as it is, it plays like the world’s best TV pilot (I like both X-Men movies an awful lot, though).

  48. James Leer says:

    I know you meant “open,” DP. I still don’t agree, though.
    And I liked X2. The first film was kind of an “almost good” movie to me…you could tell they were hamstrung on the budget, all the rewrites, and a lack of studio confidence. The second film felt like they finally got to breathe and do what they wanted. I also found it unusually elegant and clever for a superhero movie.

  49. Eric says:

    Jesse, you’ve got me on the numbers. I was wrong– I thought it had done better than that. My memory must be fuzzy because I agree with the others here that it’s an exceptionally good superhero movie. A little heavy on the subtext at times, but always satisfying.
    I am hoping that X3 is a good movie, but I worry that any financial success it finds will teach the studio the wrong lesson about what makes a franchise work. X-Men could have been a joke without a director of Singer’s skills. It is a mistake to jeopardize the good will he built over the first two movies by proceeding without him and his talents, for the sake of a quick production schedule.

  50. JBM... says:

    I’d be more worried about X3’s writing than the directing. Ratner may be a talentless goof, but Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn have been involved with almost nothing but garbage. At least Ratner’s movies can be, y’know, watched.
    And I saw more of Demme in Red Dragon than Ridley Scott.

  51. Spacesheik says:

    Who will win the box office sweepstakes – POSEIDON or XMEN 3?
    POSEIDON by a far margin. It is a remake of a film that is fondly regarded. It is a classy epic actioner with a good cast and directed by Wolfgang Peterson, who always delivers the ction goods. Demogrphically it cuts through all segments: women, teenagers, older people, action crowd.
    XMEN 3 is a sequel that looks and sounds like XMEN 2. Its a sequel and its more of the same. Demographic: Teenagers, geeks, superhero fans.
    POSEIDON is looking more and more like the Dark Horse this summer. Dont underestimte it.
    If something like DAY AFTER TOMMORROW can make $175 million, then POSEIDON surely can go over $200 million.

  52. jesse says:

    I see nothing of worth in RED DRAGON. Oh, except maybe the strongest big-studio ensemble in years, squandered on Ratner’s lack of ability to even properly ape Demme *or* Scott (and I don’t even particularly *like* Ridley Scott!).
    RED DRAGON, in fact, is what makes me nervous about Ratner doing X-MEN. I mean, the RUSH HOUR movies are at least fun, I half-liked THE FAMILY MAN. But RED DRAGON is Ratner’s attempt at stepping into a stylish, well-cast, interesting (if not always successful) franchise. Given the best materials to work with, he came up with a shockingly rote, dull movie.
    I mean, can you conceive of a lamer movie starring Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Kietel, and Mary-Louise Parker? Look at that cast! That’s a PT Anderson/Martin Scorsese/Alexander Payne/Woody Allen/Spike Lee/whoever-worthy cast. And Ratner didn’t know what to do with it.
    However, I’m hoping that Singer essentially established enough groundwork in the first two that Ratner can just play ball and make it work in that same vein.
    Spacesheik, while I can totally see POSEIDON hitting big, I must point out that almost everything you say about it was true of TROY. OK, TROY wasn’t a remake of a fondly (?!) remembered movie (is that true? The fond part?), and it was also R, not PG-13 … but I think it’s a much closer race than you think. X3 will open bigger, and has several solid weekends with little action/scifi competition. Even a Poseidon with good legs could potentially wind up with as “little” as 170-180. And even a box-office disappointment for X3 will likely mean at least 150. I can see them both in the 180-200 range easily. (Not having seen the actual movies, of course.)
    Jeffrey Boam’s Doctor, everyone else beat me to it — *most* decent superhero movies have been over 100 minutes. I did admire the snappiness of X-MEN (I actually think it was good that for whatever reasons, they had to keep it short and sweet), but insisting on 90-minute fun-fests will result in way more FANTASTIC FOURs than SPIDERMAN 2s.

  53. jeffmcm says:

    I have a pretty good feeling that moviegoers under 30 are probably not familiar with The Poseidon Adventure, and if they are I imagine it’s more seen as a square, routine disaster movie than ‘fondly remembered’.

  54. Richard Nash says:

    People will wait for SNAKES ON A PLANE. This isnt Harry Potter or Spiderman. It has some interesting buzz but better to let it sit and fester and build than to ruin it by putting it out early. Unless the film is a total Zero. Then no matter what they do in regards to release dates, they’re in some trouble.
    I do find it suspect when I hear reports they’re letting online people and test audiences help change the movie. That is never a good sign.
    If X MEN 3 had Singer on it, I’d be looking forward to it a little more. That said, POSEIDON looks like a huge bomb. The original was barely functional and that had stars and surprise going with it. SUPERMAN RETURNS will be the huge hit of the year.

  55. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Spacesheik, Day After Tomorrow made $190mil. fyi.
    Anyway, onto Snakes on a Plane. August IS the best time. August is AEROPLANE MONTH! After Red Eye and Flightplan last year, it’s keeping up the trend. But August is the best time because they can get a killer trailer out there and put it infront of Summer releases. Think what New Line did with Texas Chainsaw Massacre. THere was some buzz but then they released THAT trailer and the buzz hit the fan and that culminated in $28mil open, $80mil total. If SoaP can get that sort of number it’ll be great. But imagine if Snakes on a Plane became the runaway sensation of the year like Wedding Crashers or something.
    But, the last big internet buzzed movie was Serenity and alot of box-office predictors thought it would translate into biggish box-office. It didn’t. But if Snakes gets a great campaign… the sky’s the limit. With a title like that that will have people going “What on earth is that? We Have to see that”…

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon