Anticipating Snakes on a Plane: The Cult Phenemonon

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With online fans heavily anticipating the release of "Snakes on a Plane," the movie has created legions of fans even before appearing in a movie theater.

With a name like “Snakes on a Plane”, the movie was destined to be a cult classic even before the first scene was made. The fervor of anticipating fans, however, clearly caught the studio executives by surprise. "Snakes on a Plane" was slated for a corporate make-over: the name of the movie was to be changed to the rather non-descript "Pacific Air 121". The leading actor, Samuel L. Jackson, objected to this name change, and thus began the unexpected cult anticipation of the movie that is "Snakes on a Plane."

Websites, home videos, and t-shirts started popping up no less than five months before the premiere. Sites such as SnakesOnAShirt.com encapsulate the popularity of the movie with tongue in cheek T-shirt designs. Paula Steen of SnakesOnAShirt.com describes the fans and the anticipation for the movie: "After seeing the Snakes on a Plane craze begin online, I decided to design a SOAP shirt. However, after some research I found that dozens of fan art shirt had already been created! SnakesOnAShirt.com was then created as a home for all of these designs."

In an age where more and more people are relying upon the Internet as their source of entertainment, the buzz online is generating more interest than million dollar publicity campaigns. And because the fans that are generating this buzz are not on the payroll, the publicity is essentially free. It is has been rumored that the movie executives have added specific lines into the movie as suggested by fans, generating even more fan interest. The give and taken gesture benefits the producer with free publicity and the consumer is also rewarded with a semblance of control over the final product.

Whether or not the movie itself will be a financial success remains to be seen, however, the spontaneous net roots marketing as provided by the fans will no doubt generate much of the revenue on the opening days.

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Paula Steen
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