For months, the hype surrounding Snakes on a Plane has been building, mostly thanks to Internet fansites…and a certain weekly entertainment publication (EW readers may have noticed this magazine’s, how should we put it, affinity for the film). SoaP has drawn attention mainly because of its hilariously blunt title, which pretty much answers any questions about the film’s plot. But just to be clear, Jackson plays Neville Flynn, a U.S. Marshal escorting a Mob witness on a Los Angeles-bound flight. (Julianna Margulies costars as a flight attendant, and SNL’s Kenan Thompson is one of the unlucky passengers). Before the plane leaves Hawaii, a Mafia boss pays airport security to sneak a time-release crate of 400 deadly serpents on board. Once the plane is midair, all the slithery fun begins, including snakes deploying with the oxygen masks and one that slides up a passenger’s muumuu. Says an excited director David Ellis, ”We’ve got every kind of killer snake imaginable, from these tiny eyelash vipers that are about six inches long but can kill you in, like, three minutes, to big huge pythons.”
The studio originally intended for Snakes on a Plane to be a teen-friendly PG-13 but, after seeing a rough cut, realized that an R rating would be more logical — and lucrative. (The Snakes budget is in the $30 million range, way below average for a summer flick.) So Ellis reshot a number of scenes in March 2006 to up the gore and naughtiness factor. Explains New Line marketing exec Russell Schwartz, ”We felt we should just go for — no pun intended — the jugular.” Actually, we think that pun was intended.