Was Snakes on a Plane Re-Edited after a Parody Trailer of the Film?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The film Snakes on a Plane had new scenes filmed after the film was otherwise completed to incorporate, among other things, a line from an internet spoof of the film.

As we have pointed out a few times over the years in Movie Legends Revealed, filmmakers are willing to re-edit their films well after they are otherwise completed, often to give their films whole new endings, like “Major League” changing the identity of the film’s villain or “Pretty in Pink” changing who the protagonist ends up with at the end of the film. In the case of both of those films, though, the changes were based on the reactions to the film from test audiences who saw the final film. This what made the changes made to the 2006 action/horror/comedy “Snakes on a Plane” so striking – they were made based on reactions from fans before any audiences saw the movie!

“Snakes on a Plane” starred Samuel L. Jackson as a federal agent who is escorting a federal witness to testify in a trial of a gangster. The gangster arranges for deadly snakes to be released in the plane, with the hope that they will hopefully somehow stop the plane from making its way to its destination (by killing the pilot, by killing the witness, by causing such a panic that the PANIC causes the plane to crash, I dunno, I didn’t say that it was a good plan).

When word got about that a fairly major movie studio (New Line Cinema, the same studio that did the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy) was releasing a film starring a major movie star, Samuel L. Jackson, in a film called “Snakes on a Plane,” well, that got the internet buzzing a bit. Some with people mocking the idea, but a lot of it with people looking forward to a film that was so straightforward in its cheesiness that it would actually call itself “Snakes on a Plane.”

The film’s name was changed at one point to the fairly bland “Pacific Air Flight 121,” as the original “Snakes on a Plane” was just meant to be the generic title used while casting the film. The film’s star, Samuel L. Jackson, though, insisted on the name remaining “Snakes on a Plane.” He claimed that the title was one of the biggest reasons he agreed to do the film (another major reason is that he had previously worked with the original director attached to the project, Ronny Yu).

The most amazing part about the pre-release hype happened when two friends produced a mock audio trailer for the film. Chris Rohan and Nathaniel Perry worked together at a Maryland company called Graphic Audio, a company that did post-production for audio books and also produced audio trailers for said audio books. The two friends used their equipment to make a mock audio trailer for the film, extrapolating on what they figured that the plot for the film was. One part of their satire was to play up the fact that Samuel L. Jackson is well known for playing characters prone to using profanity, most notably in the film Pulp Fiction. So Perry (playing Jackson in the trailer) mocks that reputation of Jackson’s by shouting “I have had it with these motherf-ng snakes on this motherf-ing plane!”

The trailer was a big hit online, and became part of the hype surrounding the film.

In 2006, New Line decided to go back and do re-shoots on the film (which had finished filming in September 2005), not to fix any problems with the film, but to add more graphic scenes to take the film from a PG-13 rating to an R rating (the filmmakers claim that they BARELY got a PG-13, so they figured it made more sense to do a full-out R film rather than an “almost” R film).

And, most notably, they made a point of adding to the film a line by Samuel L. Jackson saying, “Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf-ing snakes on this motherf-ing plane!”

That’s just amazing. A parody influencing the ORIGINAL source? That has got to be a Hollywood first!

For all the hype behind the film, critics were surprised that it did “only” about $15 million its opening weekend. However, when all was said in done, the film grossed over $60 million in the U.S., more than doubling its $30 million budget, so the hype certainly appeared to help the film.

The legend is…


Thanks to Paul for the suggestion!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

2 Responses to “Was Snakes on a Plane Re-Edited after a Parody Trailer of the Film?”

  1. ParanoidObsessive on December 22nd, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    “The film’s star, Samuel L. Jackson, though, insisted on the name remaining “Snakes on a Plane.” He claimed that the title was one of the biggest reasons he agreed to do the film.”

    There might be another legend in there – I recall him doing the interview where he made that claim, and I distinctly remember it happening AFTER the massive Internet hype for the movie. I know at the time, I assumed it was just something he was saying for the sake of appeasing the Internet fans and not really the literal truth. It would be interesting to see if there’s any evidence other than his own statement that he supported the cheesy title BEFORE the Internet ran wild with it.

    The other flip-side of this whole story, though, is that Snakes on a Plane was probably the first time we realized as a culture that massive Internet hype for something doesn’t necessarily equate to sales – in spite of months worth of online hype about how awesome the concept was, the movie was basically considered a major flop. The hype didn’t really translate into ticket sales.

    I suspect that studios have become at least somewhat warier since then about attempting to appease online fans in general, even in media other than film. While online fans tend to be vocally enthusiastic, we never really seem to be all that representative of the much larger mainstream audience.

  2. Good point, I’ll look into it! Like I said in the piece, I was a bit dubious myself, so I guess I should check it out!

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