I want to dissect how badly Snakes on a Plane did this weekend, and while it may end up being slightly profitable, I want to make it super clear that this performed way, way under expectations, and was nowhere near what New Line thought they'd end up with.
The ugly details:
- It made $13.8 million this weekend, good enough for the 47th best opener of the year. Well, at least it beat Take the Lead and She's the Man.
- Some are saying that the R rating hurt it, and while it may have made more money as a PG-13 movie, it didn't even reach the potential for that MPAA classification. Snakes on a Plane was crushed by all of these other R rated films from 2006: Inside Man ($28.95 million), Underworld: Evolution ($26.86), Miami Vice ($25.72), V for Vendetta ($25.64), Silent Hill ($20.15), Hostel ($19.55), Final Destination 3 ($19.17), The Omen ($16.03), The Hills Have Eyes ($15.71). Mind you, none of these made $100 million, and in fact, the average end total is only $58.4 million. Not good company to keep, and it fell behind all of them.
- Some are also saying that the fact that it was marketed as a horror film hurt it, instead of an action-adventure film. Also, potentially true, but I see quite a few horror films in the list above. Seriously now... Snakes on a Plane couldn't beat Final Destination 3? With the awareness that Snakes had? That's just kind of sad.
- Snakes had a $3,883 per screen average. To put that it context... no screw that. That is flat out awful, especially for a film that topped the box office for the weekend. No film all year at #1 had an average that small, and you have to go back to last year to find a film that dipped below $4,000 (The Fog), but that movie (another R-rated horror film) still had a better average than Snakes, because they were smart enough to release it on fewer than 3000 screens. No, you would actually have to go all the way back to September 5th, 2003 for the opening of Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, before you found an average as bad as Snakes had. And again, the studio (Paramount) was cognizant enough of their film's shortcomings, so that they only released it on 2000 screens.
- Snakes opened on a whopping 3555 screens. Not only is that huge (and hugely expensive), but the average opening on that number of screens is $39.3 million, and it's exactly the same number of screens as the film everyone is holding up as the poster boy for the "flop of 2006" People on an Upside Down Sinking Boat (aka Poseidon). In fact, since in the last 7 years, 18 films have opened similarly, and Snakes is number 17. That is poor return on investment. They're looking at $40 million tops, domestic box office. Oh, and Poseidon beat Snakes by about $10 million, or 38%.