Snakes on a Plane
|Snakes on a Plane|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David R. Ellis|
|Music by||Trevor Rabin|
|Edited by||Howard Smith|
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
|Box office||$62 million|
Snakes on a Plane is a 2006 American action thriller film directed by David R. Ellis and starring Samuel L. Jackson. It was released by New Line Cinema on August 18, 2006, in North America. The film was written by David Dalessandro, John Heffernan, and Sheldon Turner and follows the events of hundreds of snakes being released on a passenger plane in an attempt to kill a trial witness.
The film gained a considerable amount of attention before its release, forming large fanbases online and becoming an Internet phenomenon, due to the film's title, casting, and premise. In response to the Internet fan base, New Line Cinema incorporated feedback from online users into its production, and added five days of reshooting. Before and after the film was released, it was parodied and alluded to on television shows and films, fan-made videos, video games, and various forms of literature.
Released in the United States and United Kingdom on August 18, 2006, the film received mixed to positive reviews with 69% of reviews positive and an average normalized score of 58%, according to the review aggregation websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, respectively.
Despite the immense Internet buzz, the film's gross revenue did not live up to expectations, earning US$15.25 million in its opening weekend. The film grossed US$62 million worldwide before its release on home video on January 2, 2007.
After witnessing California-based gang boss Eddie Kim brutally beat U.S. Prosecutor Daniel Hayes to death in Hawaii, Sean Jones is escorted by FBI agents Neville Flynn and John Sanders on a Boeing 747-400 to testify in a trial in Los Angeles. Despite increased security for the flight, Kim arranges for a time-release crate full of venomous snakes to be placed in the cargo hold in an attempt to bring down the plane before it reaches Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). To ensure the snakes attack the passengers without the need for provocation, he has one of his henchmen disguised as an airport ground employee spray the passengers' leis with a special pheromone which makes the snakes highly aggressive. The crate opens midway through the flight and the snakes make their way through the cabin. A couple having sex in a bathroom, and a man using another bathroom are the first killed. The plane's captain, Sam McKeon, investigates and fixes an electrical short, but is killed by the viper that caused it. Co-pilot Rick, unaware of the snake, believes Sam has suffered a heart attack and continues toward LAX.
Some of the snakes attack Rick, and while fending them off he accidentally releases the oxygen masks throughout the plane, causing several snakes to drop into the cabin with them. Numerous passengers, including Agent Sanders, are killed when the snakes invade the cabin. The surviving passengers, who have made their way to the front of the plane, put up blockades of luggage in a desperate attempt to stop the snakes. Rick is attacked and the plane starts to dip downwards, causing a food trolley to crash through the luggage blockade. The passengers flee to the upstairs first class cabin before blocking the stairwell with an inflatable liferaft. Agent Flynn and Flight Attendant Claire regain control of the plane. Rick retakes the controls and has Flynn go into the cargo hold to restore the air conditioning/ventilation system. Agent Flynn contacts FBI Special Agent Hank Harris on the ground, who gets in touch with ophiologist Dr. Steven Price, Customs' main source for animal smuggling cases. Based on pictures of the reptiles emailed to him via a passenger's mobile phone, Price believes a Los Angeles snake dealer known for illegally importing exotic and highly dangerous snakes to be responsible. After a shootout, the dealer is bitten by one of his snakes and Harris withholds the antivenom if he does not give them details. The dealer finally reveals that Kim hired him to obtain the snakes and adds how the latter managed to smuggle them on board the plane. Price injects the injured dealer with the antivenom and commandeers his supply of antivenom for the victims on the plane based on the list given to him, while Harris gives orders to have Eddie Kim arrested on multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.
Harris contacts Flynn, telling him that antivenom will be ready for the passengers when they land. However, Flynn discovers that the cockpit is filled with snakes and Rick is dead. After a brief discussion, Troy, Three Gs' bodyguard, agrees to land the plane based on prior flight experience. After everyone gets prepared, Flynn shoots out two windows with his pistol, causing the plane to depressurize. The snakes are blown out of the cockpit and the lower floor of the plane. Flynn and Troy take the controls of the plane and Troy reveals that his flight experience was from a video game flight simulator. Despite his lack of real-world experience, after Troy makes an emergency landing, the plane makes it to the terminal. The passengers leave the plane and antivenom is given to those who need it. Just as Flynn and Sean are about to disembark the plane, a final snake jumps out and bites Sean in the chest. Flynn draws his gun and shoots the snake, and paramedics rush to Sean, who is unharmed due to his wearing a ballistic vest. As a token of gratitude, Sean later takes Flynn to Bali and teaches him how to surf.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Agent Neville Flynn, an FBI agent assigned to protect Sean Jones on his flight to Los Angeles.
- Julianna Margulies as Claire Miller, a flight attendant.
- Nathan Phillips as Sean Jones, a surfer and dirtbike racer who witnesses a brutal murder committed by Eddie Kim.
- Bobby Cannavale as Special Agent Henry "Hank" Harris, Flynn's contact in Los Angeles.
- Flex Alexander as Clarence "Three Gs", a germophobic famous rapper.
- Todd Louiso as Dr. Steven Price, a snake venom expert assigned by the FBI to communicate with Flynn.
- Sunny Mabrey as Tiffany, a flight attendant who develops a crush on Sean.
- Kenan Thompson as Troy, Clarence's bodyguard.
- Rachel Blanchard as Mercedes Harbont, a socialite passenger who brings her pet Chihuahua Mary-Kate aboard.
- Lin Shaye as Grace, the senior flight attendant who acts as the flight's purser.
- David Koechner as Richard "Rick", Captain McKeon's co-pilot.
- Elsa Pataky as Maria, a female passenger.
- Keith Dallas as Big Leroy, Clarence's bodyguard.
- Mark Houghton as Agent John Sanders, Flynn's colleague assigned to protect Sean Jones.
- Tom Butler as Captain Samuel "Sam" McKeon, the captain of the plane.
- Byron Lawson as Eddie Kim, a crime syndicate leader.
- Taylor Kitsch as Kyle, a young man who boards the plane with his girlfriend.
- Samantha McLeod as Kelly, a young woman who boards the plane with her boyfriend.
- Kevin McNulty as Emmett Bradley, an air traffic tower controller.
The story is credited to David Dalessandro, a University of Pittsburgh administrator and first-time Hollywood writer. He developed the concept in 1992 after reading a nature magazine article about Indonesian brown tree snakes climbing onto planes in cargo during World War II. He originally wrote the screenplay about the brown tree snake loose on a plane, titling the film Venom. He soon revised it, expanding upon the premise to include a plague of assorted venomous snakes, then—crediting the film Aliens—revised it once again to include "lots of them loose in the fuselage of a plane." Dalessandro's third draft of Venom was turned down by more than 30 Hollywood studios in 1995. In 1999, a producer for MTV/Paramount showed interest in the script, followed up by New Line Studios, which took over the rights for production.
Originally, the film, under the working title "Snakes on a Plane", was going to be directed by Hong Kong action director Ronny Yu. Jackson, who had previously worked with Yu on The 51st State, learned about the announced project in the Hollywood trade newspapers and, after talking to Yu, agreed to sign on without reading the script based on the director, storyline, and the title. Initially New Line did not believe that Jackson had actually signed on to the project and had to call his agent to clarify. Jackson would later defend his choice of starring in the movie by stating "it was the kind of movie I would have gone to see when I was a kid" further clarifying "I feel sorry for all those people that are going through that whole trip of ‘Why would Samuel Jackson do something like this?’ and ‘It’s lowbrow.’ It’s a movie. People go to movies on Saturday to get away from the war in Iraq and taxes and election news and pedophiles online and just go and have some fun and I like doing movies that are fun.” 
The film's B movie-esque title generated a lot of pre-release interest on the Internet. One journalist wrote that Snakes on a Plane is "perhaps the most internet-hyped film of all time". Much of the initial publicity came from a blog entry made by screenwriter Josh Friedman, who had been offered a chance to work on the script. The casting of Samuel L. Jackson further increased anticipation. At one point, the film was given the title Pacific Air Flight 121, only to have it changed back to the working title at Samuel Jackson's request. In August 2005, Samuel Jackson told an interviewer, "We're totally changing that back. That's the only reason I took the job: I read the title." On March 2, 2006, the studio reverted the title to Snakes on a Plane. New Line hired two additional writers to smooth out the screenplay.
Taking advantage of the Internet buzz for what had been a minor film in their 2006 line-up, New Line Cinema ordered five days of additional shooting in early March 2006 (principal photography had wrapped in September 2005). While re-shoots normally imply problems with a film, the producers opted to add new scenes to the film to change the MPAA rating from PG-13 to R and bring it in line with growing fan expectations. The most notable addition was a revision of a catchphrase from the film that was parodied on the Internet by fans of the film, capitalizing on Samuel L. Jackson's typically foul-mouthed and violent film persona: "Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!". Subsequently, the public responded favorably to this creative change and marketing strategy, leading some members of the press to speculate that "the movie has grown from something of a joke into a phenomenon".
More than 450 snakes were used for filming to represent thirty different species of snakes. The different species include a 19-foot Burmese python named Kitty (which the crew called Kong for film purposes), a scarlet kingsnake (the non-venomous double for the coral snake), a milk snake to fill in for the taipan (which attacks the couple having sex), corn snakes, rattlesnakes, and mangrove snakes. About two-thirds of the snakes seen throughout the film were either animatronic or CGI. The snakes that were real were mostly the non-venomous ones that are never seen attacking anyone. The scenes where someone is clearly bitten were often done with animation. According to the DVD, all the snakes had production names, but only Scarface (an animated pit viper), Peanut (a cobra), and Kong are mentioned by name in the audio commentary. During filming, Samuel Jackson did not come into contact with any live snakes, due to a contract clause preventing snakes from being within 8 m (25 ft) of the actor. When the film was released in theaters, two live western diamondback rattlesnakes were released at a showing of the film on August 22, 2006, in Phoenix, Arizona. One snake had made its way into the lobby of the theater on its own, and another had been found in the parking lot. Nobody was harmed and the snakes were released back into the desert.
An illustrated book from Thunder's Mouth Press, Snakes on a Plane: The Guide to the Internet Ssssssensation by David Waldon, details the Internet phenomenon and was published July 28, 2006. Waldon details various viral videos relating to the film's craze, and interviewed their producers to find out what about the film captured their attention.
On March 16, 2006, New Line Cinema announced a contest on TagWorld and a website promoting the film. The contest allowed artists on TagWorld to have their music featured in the film. A flood of SoaP-themed songs were submitted by artists such as Captain Ahab (who ultimately won the contest), Louden Swain, the Former Fat Boys, Nispy, and others. In addition, a music video for the film, "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)" by Cobra Starship, was released on July 10, 2006 on MTV2's Unleashed. The music video appeared on the film's soundtrack as well as during the film's closing credits.
In October 2005, Nathanial Perry and Chris Rohan recorded an audio trailer spoof, which helped fuel the Internet buzz. Perry and Rohan recorded the "motherfucking snakes" line in the audio trailer which was added to the film during the week of re-shoots. In July 2006, New Line Cinema signed a worldwide licensing agreement with the Cutting Corporation to produce an audiobook of the film.
Beginning in May 2006, episodes of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and its sister show The Colbert Report contained references to Snakes on a Plane's title, the catchphrase, and general premise. On August 15, 2006, Samuel L. Jackson guest featured on The Daily Show, opening with the film's catchphrase. Keith Olbermann featured stories about the film and Internet buzz several times on his MSNBC news program Countdown. In addition, G4's Attack of the Show! featured a semi-regular segment entitled "Snakes on a Plane: An Attack of the Show Investigation", and had a week dedicated to the film which included interviews and the appearance of hundreds of snakes on set.
Snakes on a Plane generated considerable buzz on the Internet after Josh Friedman's blog entry and mentions on several Internet portals. The title inspired bloggers to create songs, apparel, poster art, pages of fan fiction, parody films, mock movie trailers, and short film parody competitions. On July 6, 2006, the official Snakes on a Plane website started a promotional sweepstakes called "The #1 Fan King Cobra Sweepstakes". The contest made innovative use of the publicity-generating potential of the Internet, requiring contestants to post links on forums, blogs, and websites and collecting votes from the users of those sites.
Many of the early fan-made trailers and later other viral videos and commercials circulated via YouTube, and captured media attention there with such titles as: Cats on a Plane (which was featured in Joel Siegel's review of Snakes on a Plane on Good Morning America), Snakes Who Missed the Plane, All Your Snakes Are Belong To Us (a spoof of the All your base are belong to us phenomenon), Steaks on a Train, and Badgers on a Plane (a spoof of "Badger Badger Badger"). Several websites also held contests about the film in fan-submitted short films and posters.
In August 2006, Varitalk launched an advertising campaign in which fans could send a semi-personalized message in Samuel Jackson's voice to telephone numbers of their choosing. Within the first week, over 1.5 million calls were sent to participants.
In June 2006, New Line commissioned famed UK audio-visual film remixers and chop-up artists Addictive TV to cut and sample Snakes on a Plane to create trailers for the U.S. television networks. The official teaser trailer premiered before X-Men: The Last Stand, and the first official trailer appeared online on June 26, 2006. Another trailer circulated in July 2006, showing several of the snake attacks and a missing pilot and co-pilot. Rotten Tomatoes had video clips of the official trailers, as well as fan-made trailers.
During a July 21, 2006 panel discussion at the Comic-Con Convention in San Diego, California, a preview clip from the film was shown to a crowd of more than 6,500 people. The panel included actors Samuel L. Jackson and Kenan Thompson, director David R. Ellis, and snake-handler Jules Sylvester.
Snakes on a Plane debuted on August 18, 2006. The film opened in 3,555 theaters and had some late-night screenings on August 17. In a move meant to exploit the attention from the film, a straight-to-DVD Z-movie horror film with a supernatural twist, Snakes on a Train, was released on August 15, 2006, three days before the film's theatrical release.
In mid-July 2006, New Line Cinema announced that it would not be showing any advance screenings for critics. After the film opened, the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 68% based reviews from 171 critics, with the consensus: "Snakes on a Plane lives up to its title, featuring snakes on a plane. It isn't perfect, but then again, it doesn't need to be." At the website Metacritic, which uses a normalized rating system, the film earned a mixed rating of 58% based on 31 reviews by mainstream critics. Reviewers reported audiences cheering, applauding, and engaging in "call and response", noting that audience participation was an important part of the film's appeal.
The Arizona Republic's Randy Cordova gave the film a positive review, calling the film "... an exploitation flick that knows what it wants to do, and it gets the job done expertly." and a "... Mecca for B-movie lovers." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle enjoyed the film, asking his readers "... if you can find a better time at the movies this year than this wild comic thriller, let me in on it." Boston Globe reviewer Ty Burr reacted to Samuel L. Jackson's performance by saying he "... bestrides this film with the authority of someone who knows the value of honest bilge. He's as much the auteur of this baby as the director and screenwriters, and that fierce glimmer in his eye is partly joy."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying that "after all the Internet hype about those motherfuckin' snakes on that motherfuckin' plane, the flick itself is a murky stew of shock effects repeated so often that the suspense quickly droops along with your eyelids." David Denby of The New Yorker claimed that the film "... may mark a new participatory style in marketing, but it still gulls an allegedly knowing audience with the pseudo-morality of yesteryear."
Film critic and radio host Michael Medved criticized New Line Cinema for agreeing to re-shoot scenes so that the film would receive an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America to match fan expectations. He argued that the film would have grossed more revenue at the box office with a PG-13 rating, stating that the demographic most likely to be drawn to a movie titled Snakes on a Plane is males between the ages of 12 and 15. "My fourteen-year-old son, Danny, for instance, felt a powerful inclination to go out and see the movie with his two sleep-over friends this Sunday night," he explained, "but I wouldn't permit it. It's rated R for good reason." Medved ultimately awarded the film 2 1/2 stars out of 4 in a radio review, but said that he did so "grudgingly."
Due to the Internet hype surrounding the film, industry analysts estimated that the film's opening box office would be between US$20-30 million. While Snakes on a Plane did narrowly beat Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby for the number one position during its opening weekend, it did not meet these estimates and grossed only $15.25 million in its opening days, a disappointment for New Line Cinema. In its second weekend, the film fell to sixth place with $6.4 million, a more than fifty percent drop from its opening weekend revenue. By the end of its theatrical run, the film grossed $62,022,014 worldwide.
Robert K. Shaye, the founder of New Line, stated that he was "disappointed" that Snakes on a Plane was a "dud" despite "higher expectations". The press declared that Snakes on a Plane was a "box office disappointment", with The New York Times reporting that after all the "hype online, Snakes on a Plane is letdown at box office" and Entertainment Weekly reporting that the film was an "internet-only phenomenon."
Snakes on a Plane released on DVD December 26, 2006 in Region 2; December 28, 2006 in Region 4; and January 2, 2007 in Region 1. The DVD features commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, several featurettes, Cobra Starship's music video, and trailers. The U.S. Blu-ray was released on September 29, 2009.
The film received further attention when fans noticed the U.S. TV edit of the film purposely dubbed over foul language, replacing it with nonsense words, for family audiences. An example is Samuel L. Jackson's line toward the end of the film, "I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!", which is replaced with "I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!".
Black Flame published the novelization of the film, written by Christa Faust. The 405–page novel contains significant backstories for the characters and introduces other characters that were not featured in the film. Comic book writer Chuck Dixon wrote a comic book adaptation of the film. DC Comics released the two-issue miniseries on August 16, 2006 and September 27, 2006 under their Wildstorm imprint.
|Snakes on a Plane: The Album|
|Soundtrack album by Various artists|
|Released||August 15, 2006|
New Line Records
The soundtrack for the film was released on August 15, 2006. The enhanced portion of the CD contains what was considered the "best of the best" of the amateur Internet creations inspired by the film, including the songs "Snakes on the Brain" by Captain Ahab and "Here Come the Snakes (Seeing Is Believing)" by Louden Swain. The single "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)" peaked at the 32nd position of Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks in 2006.
- "Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)" by Cobra Starship, William Beckett, Maja Ivarsson, Travie McCoy
- "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage" (Tommie Sunshine Brooklyn Fire Remix) by Panic! at the Disco
- "Black Mamba" (Teddybears Remix) by The Academy Is...
- "Ophidiophobia" by Cee-Lo Green
- "Can't Take It" (The Baldwin Brothers "El Camino Prom Wagon" Remix) by The All-American Rejects
- "Queen of Apology" (Patrick Stump Remix) by The Sounds
- "Of All the Gin Joints in All the World" (Tommie Sunshine's Brooklyn Fire Retouch) by Fall Out Boy
- "New Friend Request" (Hi-Tek Remix) by Gym Class Heroes
- "Around the Horn" (Louis XIV Remix) by The Bronx
- "Remember to Feel Real" (Machine Shop Remix) by Armor for Sleep
- "Wine Red" (Tommie Sunshine's Brooklyn Fire Retouch) by The Hush Sound
- "Bruised" (Remix) by Jack's Mannequin
- "Final Snakes" by Shranky Drank
- "Wake Up" (Acoustic) by Coheed and Cambria
- "Lovely Day" by Donavon Frankenreiter
- "Hey Now Now" by Michael Franti & Spearhead
- "Snakes on a Plane - The Theme" (Score) by Trevor Rabin
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