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Snakes on a Plane Won't Be Slithering Into Theaters Unnoticed

Director David Ellis Talks About the Internet Campaign Promoting Snakes

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Snakes on a Plane Won't Be Slithering Into Theaters Unnoticed

Snake Handler Jules Sylvester and director David Ellis on the set of Snakes on a Plane.

© New Line Cinema
The Incredible Buzz Surrounding Snakes on a Plane: “It’s weird - so weird. It’s so overwhelming. It’s like I’ve been living a dream ever since I was born, doing whatever I’m doing, but this is definitely living the dream. We never thought this movie would turn into what it’s turned into. Nobody could have predicted it.

When I got the offer I thought that it was a great high concept with two really big phobias – fear of flying and snakes. The pilot is dead and the plane is on auto-pilot and it’s stuck in a huge turbulent storm, which people have a fear of flying. I loved that.

Sam Jackson, I’m a huge fan of his. He’s a good friend and I’ve worked with him several times directing second units on films he’s been in. So having that ability to direct a film with Sam Jackson with this high concept was really, really cool. I knew I could do something fun for the material, for the genre, for the demographics that this would appeal to, but no clue it would catch on like this.”

‘Fun’ is the Key: “It is fun. It’s going to be a really fun, kind of light time. This is like the movies that you used to be able to go see, that I used to see as a kid. You’d go to a movie, you’d be entertained, you’d be scared, you’d laugh, you would be on the edge of your seat. It’d be over with, you would clap and you’d get out and you’d be talking about it on the way out. And you’d probably come back and see it again. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

Ellis isn’t sure why we don’t see movies of that sort anymore. “First of all, there’s no original, fresh ideas. It’s all a sequel of something we’ve already seen. I think there’s a lack of imagination right now and I think that we need to get that back. I think that because of everything else that’s going on in this world, especially now, that people need a release. They need a break and they need to go and just have fun for a little bit and get away. The reality is still going to be there but if you can just entertain them for a little bit and make them smile and scare them at the same time, then that’s kind of a cool thing.”

Changes Made Based on the Internet Response to Snakes on a Plane: “The tone, I think, remains the same. But I do think that we saw that we can have a little bit more fun with it than we initially intended to because I think that because we were trying to make a really, really scary movie but at the same time I felt like the pacing of the movie - it’s what some of the films I’ve done have had… Even though they’re serious and there’s s**t happening, every now and then you’ve got to make the people laugh and let them up. We did that on Final Destination 2. You would have a moment just to give them a break because pretty soon you’re going to chop somebody’s head off or something. People need that. But I followed the Internet from very early on and I saw a really unique opportunity to kind of tailor the film for what would be the fans of the film, instead of after the fact reading a review like, ‘We wish they would have done this…’ You know, why not give it to them? If they’re asking for it in droves, give it to them.”

The Role of the Internet in Shaping Future Films: Ellis said the Internet will definitely have an impact on his upcoming movies. “I think it will with who’s ever smart and who’s trying to stay in touch with what’s happening, you know? Because although I feel like I’m still 17, I’m not anymore. I work with my daughter who’s 24 and she keeps me young and hip and honest, and keeps my pulse on what’s going on with kids today. I think anybody that’s smart will be listening to it.

No one knows how much the Internet’s going to translate into box office, no matter how strong the buzz is. It was our job during the making of the film, and during the buzz on the Internet, to make sure that we also went out after everybody else that wasn’t Internet savvy so that we would get Middle America people. We had the media working and we had the Internet working and we came out with TV spots and then MTV2 spots. We still have work to do. But I think anybody that’s smart is going to definitely stay aware of what’s going on - and I definitely will.”

No Advance Screenings of Snakes on a Plane: “It’s going to the fans. I love the critics and they’ve been very – most of them are really supportive, but the fans worked so hard for this movie to promote it with all their poster art and their merchandise that they have online and the songs and the video and everything. They’ve worked so hard to spoof it or promote it or whatever they’re doing - at least they’re doing something. I just felt, 'Let’s give it to everybody at the same time.'

We’re going to have some special screenings on Thursday night at 10:00 prior to the release at 12:00 that will be for contest winners and fans and Internet people and stuff like that. They’ll be seeing it at the same time the premiere is happening for all the stars and all that stuff in Hollywood, and then it will open at 12:01 and the world will see it.”

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