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How fans made 'Snakes' a sssssensation

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Film has often been called a collaborative medium. But few movies are as collaborative as "Snakes on a Plane," with its self-explanatory premise that can only be described as "fangtastic."

With its patently ridiculous storyline about 500 deadly serpents terrorizing a commercial flight, "Snake on a Plane" – or "SoaP" as it's commonly abbreviated – has slithered into the consciousness of film fans over the past year. So much so that a Google search of the title generates more than 16 million hits and reveals home-made SoaP paraphenalia such as amateur music videos, paintings, board games, T-shirts, jewelry, and mock movie posters. (Example: "Hamlet 2: Snakes on a Dane.")

Significantly, the online community blossomed spontaneously – a giggly reaction to the movie's title. In response, New Line Cinema has embraced the unexpected attention by inviting musically gifted fans to compete for a slot on the soundtrack. More fundamentally, filmmakers have added more violence, more nudity, and even a line of profane dialogue by fan request. The studio's response to its online fans is unprecedented. If successful, 'Snakes' may inspire Hollywood to rethink how it tailors films for an intended audience.

Whether or not "SoaP" marks the beginning of a new era of moviemaking, one in which those paying to see the film have some sway over its outcome, depends solely on how much of a bite the film can take out of moviegoers' pockets. Until the box office figures are in, fans everywhere will have to be content hearing their rattle on the silver screen.

Robert Scoble, coauthor of "Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers," is optimistic that the studio's decision to reshoot five days of film in response to fan suggestions will pay off. "If people feel like they've added something to a movie, and the movie producers listened to them, we're going to be far more likely to take our friends to see that," he says.


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