August 25, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Snakes on a Plane

Current Status
In Season
Wide Release Date
Samuel L. Jackson, Flex Alexander, Kenan Thompson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips
David Ellis
New Line Cinema
Sebastian Gutierrez, John Heffernan
Horror, Action Adventure

In the end, that hissing sound came not from a horde of vipers but from the air leaking out of the Snakes on a Plane phenomenon. After months of Internet obsession, the movie debuted with just $15.2 million?barely enough to finish No. 1, and below the most cynical of forecasts. (Even buzzless R-rated horror flicks like Silent Hill and Final Destination 3 opened better this year.) To be fair, the film, which cost about $30 million, will likely make money once DVD sales are factored in, but here are three reasons why the slither to profitability will be longer than anticipated:

? Blogs Don’t Equal Bucks
The big question was, Would webheads actually go see it? The answer: No. Or at least they didn’t bring friends. Bloggers gave SoaP an unexpected boost, says New Line executive Rolf Mittweg, ”but did awareness translate into dollars? I don’t think so.”

? Young Men Aren’t Reliable Moviegoers
New Line aimed for a demographic that has repeatedly proved to be finicky — and SoaP‘s stats bear that out. Just as many women showed up as men, and, owing in part to its R rating, 53 percent of the film’s audience was older than 25. You can’t make cash if your core crowd doesn’t show.

? Schlock Sells Just Like You’d Expect
Reviews were the one part of the whole SoaP experience that actually beat expectations, but the fact is that most people pegged SoaP as a goofy horror movie and stayed home. After all, nobody needed to buy a ticket to be entertained by the best part: its title.

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