Monitoring Snakes on a Plane

I know a good many people who are reading this blog will be going to see Snakes on a Plane this weekend and that you are scattered in cities and towns around the globe. I would like to ask that you send me your observations about the film’s reception by 9 pm est weds. night and I will compile them and post them to the blog. Some of the things we will be interested in hearing: When and where you saw the movie; what the attendence was like (packed, sparse, some place in between); memorable examples of interactions between the audience and the film; some sense of the tone of the audience response to the film; some clue as to why the people there came (this may be hard to gleam without talking to people but you can certainly listen to conversations around you, etc.); your own response to the movie. I see this as an experiment in whether we can use blogs to get a nationwide, perhaps world wide snapshot of the public’s response to a film. Your notes don’t have to be lengthy or sophisticated but your impressions may help us all to better understand the film’s reception. Post your responses in the comments section here. (I will do my best to keep rescuing them from the evil Spam Catcher.)


  1. I saw Snakes on a Plane on Thursday night at 10pm in New Minas, Nova Scotia. I had purchased my ticket in advance as I thought it would be sold out, but it wasn’t. The theatre was about 1/3 full and when I walked in to the theatre a young man looked around and said, “Yeah! Samuel L. Jackson has been in over 100 films. It’s great that you came.” There weren’t many small groups of people and there were several groups of 5 or 6 men in their early 20s. The audience was mostly male.

    When the title came on the screen there was laughter in the space between “Snakes” and “on a Plane”.

    There was some audience reaction and laughter to Mr. Jackson’s lines, but when Jackson said, “That’s it. I’ve had it with these …” the audience cheered and applauded. As the credits rolled people began getting up, but paused to watch the music video, then most people were gone, smiling, talking and laughing. Bits I overheard were things like, “that was awesome”, and “oh man, that was so cool.” For me the film wasn’t really a great cinematic achievement, but it was fun, if a bit violent with an awkward opening. Without Samuel L. Jackson it wouldn’t have been much fun at all. His presence helped me get past the cliches and clumsiness as he somehow transcended the material.

  2. When and where you saw the movie

    AMC Loews Boston Common, 12 midnight on Thursday

    what the attendence was like (packed, sparse, some place in between)

    It was not a sellout crowd, but there was a good amount of people. I’d say it was 3/4 full. There was quite a large geek contingent, with a few large groups arriving independently. There were some professionally-made SoaP shirts, some homemade shirts, and someone even had rubber snakes in the back.

    memorable examples of interactions between the audience and the film

    (from my blog posting, linked below)

    My friend brought a printout of the Snakes on a Plane Participation Script. Well before showtime, he helped the audience learn the key lines: anytime the asian bad guy finishes a sentence, yell “…in bed!”; anytime a sentence ends in “snakes,” yell “motherfucking snakes!”; anytime Samuel L Jackson yells at someone, add “…bitch!” for emphasis; etc. It was a little like a Rocky Horror Screening, except that nobody had seen the movie yet. So when the entire theater found out that adding “in bed” actually works for damn near everything the asian guy says, it was hilarity topped with the joy of discovery.

    The audience also made up a couple lines, like counting down with the timer, saying “3… 2… 1… SNAKES!”

    some sense of the tone of the audience response to the film

    Most people went along with the callout lines, although there were some jerks in the back with no sense of humor. The atmosphere was very excited and when Sam delivered his famous line we drowned out the movie for a good 20 seconds.

    some clue as to why the people there came (this may be hard to gleam without talking to people but you can certainly listen to conversations around you, etc.);

    I think most people were there for campy fun. I don’t think there was anyone there who thought the movie would be especially good, it was more an excuse to get together and be in a theater where it was ok to yell at the screen.

    your own response to the movie.

    See my blog posting here:

  3. Saw the Friday night 7:30 show in La Canada, CA (near Pasadena). The theater was only about half full, but the crowd seemed to really enjoy it (much clapping and cheering when Samuel L. Jackson delivers the “I have had ENOUGH of these motherf*ckin’ snakes on this motherf*ckin’ plane!” line.

    One thing I noticed was about a dozen 14 or 15 year-old kids trying to sneak into the R-rated show. They bought tickets to “Pirates of the Caribbean” (rated PG-13) and kept trying to slip out of that and into “Snakes”. The ushers were having none of it.

  4. Saw the Friday, 7:45 show at Century theaters in San Jose, CA.

    Theater was not full, but pleasantly plump. In front of me sat 8 or so probably high school students. I knew it was going to be good when after exceptionally bad trailer before the show, one kid said, “You know what would make that movie better… Snakes”

    There was much clapping during the movie, mostly at whatever Samuel L Jackson said.

    Also, there were several people who would just bust out laughing at pretty much random points in the movie.

    So yes, it sounded like the audience had a pretty good time, but I don’t think there is much of anything the movie could do to ruin that.

  5. I saw the film at 10pm on Thursday night in a multiplex in San Francisco. It was a packed audience, and the excitement in the air even 45 minutes before the movie began. I think a small, but vocal, percentage had, shall we say, artificially enhanced their excitement with cocktails pre-movie. During the commercials and ads, two men in drag, one in a flight attendant’s uniform, did a little skit (dirty humor, rubber snakes) that was fairly cute and got whoops and hollers, even though one of them could barely be heard over the ads. I’d say the mood went from festive to obnoxiously crazed once the trailers started.

    People booed the boring trailers, or made hissing noises. The two comedic trailers (for the Tenacious D movie, and one in which Will Arnett goes to jail) got laughs and cheers. The audience, once the movie actually started, went batshit for anything that looked either salacious or corny; they went batshit a lot.

    There was a particularly loud group of people behind me (could not tell how many or what the demographics) who were very lively. They would scream and hoot at every cheesy moment, especially if it involved Samuel L. Jackson, or a snake biting someone in a vulnerable body part. There were also people who made a huge hissing noise at certain points as well. This kind of made the movie hard to hear, and I think I caught only about half the dialogue, which wasn’t that much of a loss, except the audience was going so crazy that I practically missed Jackson’s seminal line (about the “muthaf—g snakes…”) — that I regret. Most of the audience reaction was vocalized in either laughing, hissing or (my favorite) shouting things at the screen; there were at least 2 instances when people shouted lines from the infamous Ezekial speech in “Pulp Fiction”. Anything and everything set people off. It was like they were determined to have fun.

    When the movie ended, I could kind of scan the crowd talking and lingering outside, and most of the people were in their early twenties-early thirties, in hipster clothes and manner. Which surprised me until I remember the movie was rated ‘R’ and that everyone had to be college age and up.

    I’ve been to my share of enthusiastic fan movies; midnight screenings of LotR movies, the special “Serenity” screenings for fans, even outdoor showings of cult movies like “Xanadu” and SoaP topped them all in sheer loudness and, well, obnoxiousness. A bad movie can be really fun with the right audience; one of the best movie-going experiences I ever had was a showing of the “Willard” re-make wth Crispin Glover. That was so fun because it was a truly communal experience, and the movie reached us at the same level. We all “ewww”ed together, and we all laughed together. In SoaP, a third of the audience were treating the movie like it was a New Year’s Party, and the other two-thirds just had to go along. Not the best time, sadly, b/c they were reacting as if the movie was so bad it was good, but I don’t think it reached that level of perfection.

  6. I saw the movie at 10:00 on Thursday in Corinth, Texas. Like an earlier poster, I expected it to be sold out and bought tickets in advance. But the theatre was maybe a little over half full. My friends and I were the oldest people in the place (we’re 39). The other viewers were mainly early 20’s. It seemed to be pretty mixed among male and female. I had expected a lot of audience participation, as one of my friends said she saw someone with a rubber snake, but there really wasn’t much. There was a lot of laughter and of course cheers and applause when SLJ delivered his much anticipated famous line. At the end of the film when the cute flight attendant gave the witness guy her phone number, a young woman in the audience yelled, “Slut!” That got a laugh. Everybody seemed to have a great time – lots of laughter and groans or gasps in the appropriate spots. A fun movie experience!

  7. I saw the movie at 10pm on Thursday (opening night) in Cleveland, Ohio. Not a sell out, but a pretty big crowd; a couple of empty rows down in front, and enough empty seats that I could secure some leg room. The audience was almost entirely college-age and younger. The audience did a lot of applause (particularly for SLJ) and laughter. It was great to see reflex-jumps (on the sudden-noise shots that are supposed to make you jump) followed almost immediately by raucous laughter at the hilarious snake attack. People laughed at the occasional audience mocking. I got a few chuckles out of “trouser-snake!!!” on the mile-high-club scene. Nobody that I noticed had brought rubber snakes or anything like that though.

  8. I saw it at 12:40 pm Saturday morning, at a theatre on the outskirts of Orlando, FL. Attendance was very sparse, but the crowd laughed a lot, mostly at the various snake attacks. When SLJ uttered his famous line, several people in the theater–husband and I included–said it with him.

  9. Unfortunately SoaP doesn’t arrive DownUnder until Thursday (your Wednesday). I have agreed, not unreluctantly, to go with an ever growing number of junior high kids to see the movie, but any reaction-report would be after your deadline.

  10. I saw the 10pm thursday showing in Tucson, AZ. The audience was very involved with the movie. I arrived about 30 minutes before it started and the theater was packed, my group had to sit down towards the front. There were people leading chants such as “what do we want? Snakes! where do we want them? On a plane! who do we love? Sammuel L. Jackson!” One person had a cutout of SLJ and was running around the theater to thunderous applause. Once the film started there was much audience participation. People were hissing at the movie and just generally yelling comments and interacting with the action on screen. It was a very loud audience, but it made for a very enjoyable night at the theater.

  11. I’ll wait for Snakes on a Canoe to come out before I see any Mother-effing snakes on any mother-effing types of transportation.

  12. I haven’t seen it yet, but in case you haven’t seen this yet, there is a Participation Script

    (I found it from BoingBoing.


  13. Peter Rauch says:

    I don’t have much to add here about the actual experience of seeing the film, but Samuel L. Jackson’s Daily Show interview pretty much sums up, for me, a lot of what’s going on here. At every turn in the movie’s rather unusual history, Jackson appears to have sided with the fans and against the studio. Waiting for the theater to begin seating, I realized that I had developed an emotional stake in the film’s success, based on the (absurd?) idea that by purchasing a ticket I was standing up for my nerd brothers and sisters, and sticking it to the studio bosses that demand every movie be either a PG-13 or Oscar bait. Jackson and Jon Stewart’s gleeful interview crystalizes, for me, the idea that we made this movie, if for no other reason than because we stopped the machine from screwing it up.

  14. Max Dawson says:

    I caught the Friday, 5.30 pm screening in Evanston, IL with a group of students from the Screen Cultures PhD program at Northwestern. The auditorium was about 1/3 full, with a startlingly large percentage of the audience comprised of groups of young people (under 18s) with a parent in tow. I definitely noticed a bit of a generational divide in the audience’s comportment. More than once some of the parents around us shot disapproving looks at the teens they were chaperoning when the kids interacted vocally with the screen.

    To give you some indication of the atmosphere in the theater, this was the first film that I’ve ever attended that the audience applauded the *opening* credits. The “snakes on crack” and “these mf’in snakes on a mf’in plane” lines generated by far the most vocal reactions. (The groans elicited by the fifth of five Red Bull placements in the first twenty minutes definitely took honorable mention, though.)

    The most interesting thing about the “mf’in snakes” line was the degree to which the shot stood out from the rest of the film. Perhaps all the reports about reshoots had oversensitized me, but I really felt like there was a jarring sense of contrast between this shot and the shots that preceded and followed it. It was almost like we could see the messy stitches that joined together the producers’ and studio’s conception of Snakes as a semi-serious b thriller and the self-consciously awful exercise in camp that many of us in the audience had come to the theater to see.

  15. Saw the film this afternoon (Sunday) with my nephew.

    Cinema was not that busy/full (usual for this time/day).

    When I bought the tickets I asked the guy behind the counter for “…two tickets to Snakes on a [hand over mouth[mother****ing[/hand] Plane”. He laughed, so that was a good start. 🙂

    We both liked the film, but thought that one point (everyone on the stairs for ages) was stupid. I don’t scare easy, but there was one bit that made me jump, so well done. 🙂

  16. The comments on the ask a ninja review of pirates of the carribean is an interesting blog-snapshot of people’s feelings on that movie

  17. When and where you saw the movie

    Garland (Dallas), Texas

    what the attendence was like (packed, sparse, some place in between)

    About 1/2 full, but it was a Sunday afternoon

    memorable examples of interactions between the audience and the film

    There weren’t many, but overall there was a great vibe. Whereas most films would illicit a groan from the foolishness on screen, this audience would laugh instead.

    some sense of the tone of the audience response to the film;

    Every I saw leave was laughing and smiling. Several were talking about how wonderfully stupid it was.

    your own response to the movie.

    See my blog posting here:

  18. When and where you saw the movie

    Garland (Dallas), Texas

    what the attendence was like (packed, sparse, some place in between)

    About 1/2 full, but it was a Sunday afternoon

    memorable examples of interactions between the audience and the film

    There weren’t many, but overall there was a great vibe. Whereas most films would illicit a groan from the foolishness on screen, this audience would laugh instead.

    some sense of the tone of the audience response to the film;

    Every I saw leave was laughing and smiling. Several were talking about how wonderfully stupid it was.

    your own response to the movie.

    See my blog posting here:

  19. Henry Jenkins says:

    7 p.m. Sunday show at a multiplex in Snellville, GA (Near where my brother and sister-in-law live).

    Attendence was sparse — there were perhaps 20 people in the theatre, overwhelmingly African-American, and mostly there, it would seem, to see Samuel R. Jackson.

    Hoping to get into the spirit of the event, I wore a large rubber snake around my neck. As I got out of my car, one couple laughed and said they knew what movie I was there to see and gave me a thumbs up, indicating that they had just seen the film and really enjoyed it. I got not the slightest glimmer of recognition from the folks at the ticket booth.

    The audience’s response throughout was disappointingly lifeless. My wife and I seemed to be the only ones laughing. When Jackson delivered his most famous line, I started applauding and the rest of the theatre joined me. My wife whispered to me to say she wasn’t sure they knew why they were clapping. Most of them left before the end credits music video which also repeats this line. My wife said that the folks she followed from the movie into the women’s room weren’t talking about the film at all.

    I got into a little banter after the movie with a few folks who appreciated the snake.

    We very much enjoyed the film but were disappointed by the lack of an audience response. As I said, it’s hard to tell what drove these folks to the theatre but it sure wasn’t an event for them.

  20. I saw the movie at the Bowling Green, Ky., Great Escape Theatre on Industrial Drive. Amanda and I went along with my cousin and his wife and a friend visiting from out-of-town who we had just picked up at the Greyhound station.

    We caught the 9:45 p.m. showing.

    Attendance was decent, but it was the latest showing and was playing on two screens, so there had been three other showings in the last few hours. It was one of the building’s largest theaters, so there were actually quite a few people there, but it looked fairly sparse spread out in the room.

    Aside from the people I traveled, with there was a guy I knew from WKU’s film studies department who was sitting in front of me with a friend, both wearing Snakes on a Plane shirts.

    The audience did let out a few collective cheers and groans and screams, the largest applause of course going to the film’s signature line.

    I enjoyed the film and found that it had enough camp, although not nearly as much as I’d expected, but that it also worked as a fairly compelling thriller, goofiness mixed in.

    My wife has already vowed interest in seeing it a second time, just to add to the box office count, and I have some friends yet to see it who are trying to compel me to do so. In a nutshell, not a packed crowd at the showing I went to but strong word-of-mouth in this area based on the film’s unique name and marketing.

  21. Amanda Flowers says:

    Saw the movie earlier tonight (Monday the 21st), East Lansing, Michigan. Audience was a lot more sparse than anticipated… my boyfriend and I went together and he wanted to avoid the weekend to avoid the “rush,” but I couldn’t say from the group there tonight if there was rush or not. Mostly younger folk though, I also can’t tell you why they were there in specific — we slipped in just during the previews. A lot of people stayed for the credits, but of course the music video had an entertainment aspect.

    It may have just been the small audience but there wasn’t a ton of participation. There was definitely laughter at multiple parts, intentional or unintentionally funny. Laughter when the title Snakes …. (wait for it…) on a Plane popped up. Laughter at the Big Line. A few squeals at the squeamish parts. As an MST fan, I generally am a fan of camp, so I knew from the start I wanted to see this movie. I’ve seen way more “cornball” nerd movies than I have seen good ones, especially lately. The movie was everything I expected or wanted out of it. Overall film experience good. Left wondering if there were crowds on the weekend and we dodged them, or if it wasn’t as big a deal as it was cracked up to be, at least around here. I could definitely tell which material was reshoot patched-in, and which was the “original” film, though the stitched-together nature of the picture is kind of part of the charm in some ways.

  22. thanks for this entry and to all the people adding comments. i had been amused by the marketing and fan response but we didn’t actually go see it. my question is, what is the etiquette for this movie? if i show up next weekend with my snake wig and a script from boing boing will i have missed the participatory audience and just piss off the regular old movie-goers? samuel jackson’s a motherfuckin’ pioneer and movie rules shall never be the same…

  23. I actually saw the film twice – once at the Thursday 10pm screening Thursday (AMC Framingham, MA) and again at a matinee on Sunday as my teenage daughter wanted to see it.

    The opening night show was not quite full (about 75%), but it was a lot of fun – we make up alot of ad-libs throughout the movie.

    Sunday was a different story – we were 2 of a total of 5 people in the theatre – no adlibs, just a lot of moans and deafaning silence.

    Methinks this film will a great midnight show down the road.

  24. I saw an advance screening of the movie at Park Lane Cinema in Halifax, Nova Scotia at 9:30 PM on Thursday. I say “advance” because the regular showing for the hoi polloi was at 10 and we got to watch half an hour early.

    The theatre was packed when my friend and I got there at around 9. In fact, according to the advance passes it was deliberately overbooked. There were a bunch of seats reserved, some of them for journalists from the local radio station, which was one of the sponsors of the free screening. I don’t remember too well the composition of the audience though I think it skewed more towards people in their 20’s, both men and women.

    There were no pre-movie quizzes or such, just a blank screen and the sound of lots of people talking. I’m afraid I can’t tell you what everyone else was talking about, my friend and I were actually deep in conversation about The Prison Notebooks and David Graeber (we’re grad students in anthro).

    Eventually, a radio DJ and some assistants dressed in official movie t-shirts got up at the front and got everyone’s attention. The DJ thanked everyone for showing up and reminded everyone who was sponsoring the show. Then she invited everyone to look at the numbers on their passes and had an assistant start randomly picking numbers out of a bag. The holders of the named passes got some kind of prize (I don’t know what exactly). The assistants also started throwing free frisbees into the crowd. In the hallway outside the theatre, audience members entering received a card from the assistants, some of them with small plastic snakes around their necks. The DJ reminded everyone that those cards allowed you to enter a contest to “see SNAKES IN ARIZONA” and get a $500 HMV gift card. I know this because I have the card with me right now though I still haven’t bothered to visit the URL it lists. Finally, the giveaway ended and my friend and I returned to talking about Gramsci.

    Realize that neither of us has a tv and we’ve both been amazingly busy for the last year (like I said, we’re in grad school). We didn’t know about the fan phenomenon around the movie and in fact I only found out right now by reading the comments of people before me. On the way to meet me at the movie theatre, my friend had met some people he knew who told him that the film was supposed to be really bad. That was pretty much the only advance warning we had besides the movie’s title. Why did we watch it? Because it was a free movie.

    Then the actual showing started. The audience immediately started clapping when they saw the title. I can’t remember if anyone else in the audience resented the Red Bull product placement, I was too busy rolling my eyes. The audience clapped for Samuel Jackson’s first appearance, and throughout the movie, they either laughed and/or clapped whenever he or anyone else cursed onscreen. Overall, it felt rather like I was watching a bad movie at home with an intimate circle, except that I couldn’t make sarcastic comments (I only managed a handful of whispered bon mots to my friend). The audience laughed where they were supposed to if they were taking the movie at face value and where they were supposed to if they were reading it as a campy text. In fact, it was clear that no one thought the movie would be any good in itself, so everyone came prepared to watch a bad movie, not a potentially good one. There was no one quoting any lines or doing any of the games other people have mentioned. When the movie ended, a lot of people stayed in their seats to watch the music video, but a lot also got up immediately and left. I wasn’t interested and my friend loudly remarked how he hated such manufactured stylings, so we didn’t stay.

    We both remarked on how the movie wasn’t really so bad. I told him I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a monster movie or a disaster movie, and he said he thought it was supposed to be a comedy. I pointed out to him that the producer was Michael Bay and I didn’t think he was capable of irony.

    Overall, I was generally satisfied with the movie, though if I’d paid for it I’d definitely feel differently. There were several things I found of interest: the cartoonish Yellow Peril, the clear inclusion of a token good Asian guy to allay accusations of the same, the cliched moral retribution against sexual expression (the mile high couple), the it’s-not-sexism-if-we’re-winking sexism of the copilot, and the appearance of Margaret Cho’s grandmother from her old tv show as the grotesque Korean woman. Still, I didn’t expect any better, so I left the theatre content in the knowledge that I’d been able to spend 2 hours for free in an air-conditioned place and hadn’t been bored.

  25. I saw the film Tuesday at 5:15 at the AMC in Santa Monica. Only about a dozen other people in the audience. There was clapping when Samuel L. Jackson delivered the key double m——f—— line, but I’m not sure the film will make it as a midnight movie, based on the fact that the script changes tone and pulls on heartstrings when we’re down to the survivors in the second half. No catcalls during that part. As far as Internet phenomena flicks with fan culture appeal, I actually thought _Queer Duck_ had a much livelier audience.

  26. I went to see the movie on Saturday night, at 10 PM, at the movie theater of the Tallahassee (FL) mall. There were hardly any people in the theater. Most people laughed during the movie and cheered at The Line.

  27. I caught it at 9:45 on Friday night at the AMC North Park in Dallas. Several of us SMU profs (in the Cinema-TV and Advertising departments) attended together and had a great time (even the one who dragged his feet about it the whole day prior).

    Attendance was surprisingly moderate for opening night. The theater was one of the complex’s “big” venues, and was probably about 1/3 full. Most of the attendees were 18-24, with another good contingent in their 30s (i.e., my group and others).

    Though the reaction was pretty neutral to the trailers, the mood elevated considerably once the feature started, and was up all the way through. It started with a whole bunch of hisses even before the title screen showed, and just continued from there. I didn’t hear any obvious shouts from the participation script at any point, but there was a lot of appreciative laughter and applause at many moments throughout. The hapless, chauvinistic co-pilot was a particular audience favorite. All the best attacks/deaths were met with that great combo of laughing and grossing out at the same time (especially the mile-highers and the unfortunate guy in the bathroom). A couple of guys literally couldn’t stop laughing throughout, and even their laughter kept the atmosphere fun throughout.

    Things dragged a bit here and there, but never for long. Everyone dug the obnoxious business guy’s demise (and “cameo” appearance later!). SLJ’s key line was met with thunderous applause and shouts. We all left with giddy grins on our faces, as did everyone else in the theater. I overheard a couple of people speculating about sequels (“Platypi on a helicopter!”).

    My biggest disappointment, though, was the fact that very few of my students had gone and seen it. Out of the 70-odd students in my classes, only about 6 had seen it (and had a great time). What’s up with that?

    All in all, perhaps the most fun I’ve had at a public screening of a first-run Hollywood film since about, oh, Star Trek II‘s opening night way, way, way back in 1982. I’ve seen many great films since then, but not with the same audience energy.