CCI, Day 3: "Snakes" on a Panel

Sat, July 22nd, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

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Saturday's big panel in Hall H in the San Diego Convention Center was also the final one of the day: New Line Presents "Snakes on a Plane" (or "Snakes on a Mutha-F*ckin' Plane," as was often uttered by fans in attendance). Hosting the panel for New Line was Kenan Thompson ("Good Burger," "SNL," and "Snakes on a Plane," of course). Before attendees got to the snakes though, New Line gave the audience a rundown on their upcoming releases.

First up was the "Final Destination 3" DVD, coming out next week. In attendance for the film were director James Wong and actors Ryan Merriman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. While the release of a DVD for a small-budgeted sequel may not be big news, the features on this DVD are.

This DVD contains a "choose your own adventure"-type of feature, where viewers can choose who will live or die in the film. Apparently, this was planned for early on in the production. The actors and director admitted that creating this feature was a bit tiring at times, but they still had fun working on it.

The actors also talked about the filming of the "roller coaster crash" scene, which is covered extensively in a "Making of" featurette on the DVD. It took place over five days on location and in front of a green screen. The first day shooting on location, the actors had to ride a dizzying roller coaster over twenty times, and felt like they "had broken a record." They then discovered over the next few days that they would break that record many more times.

After the "Final Destination 3" group left the stage, a video was screened of Jack Black and Kyle Gass. They were introduction a clip for their film, "Tenacious D in 'The Pick of Destiny.'"

"This movie will blow your nuts into your butt and leave them there," Black told the audience.

The clip showed a character playing a young Jack Black rocking out and battling his father, played by Meatloaf. Dio also made an appearance to help inspire the young Black character. The audience screamed in approval at his appearance.

David Ellis (far left) and Jules Sylvester (second to end on left) Kenan Thompson, Samuel Jackson, David Ellis

After this came the moment everyone was waiting for: "Snakes on a Plane." A trailer played to thunderous cheers. Director David Ellis ("Cellular") then came out. He thanked the fans for their support and help in making this film a phenomenon.

A special montage was then played, highlighting various bits of the Internet craziness for the movie. Some of this nuttiness included "Lions on a Bus," "Goats on a Boat," "Snakes on a Blog," and various homemade soundtracks for the film.

Brought out next was Jules Sylvester, the head snake, the man in charge of those snakes on that plane, and he brought a few of his friends with him.

Several large snakes were displayed, each close to 10 feet long. The piece de resistance was a nineteen-foot, 250-pound anaconda. It took five people to bring the snake out, and Sylvester commented that it was rare for snakes of this variety to be as docile as this one was.

There were 450 live snakes on the set; however, they ended up with over 500 by the time the filming ended. Sylvester added, "Snakes like snakes."

Suddenly, a voice boomed over the speakers: "I'm sick and tired of these mutha-f*ckin' snakes!"

The audience rose to their feet as Samuel L. Jackson took to the stage. He looked relaxed and seemed genuinely excited about the film.

A fan incredulously asked Jackson if he's still willing to do independent films, and the actor said that as long as the story is good and he gets paid, "it's all good."

"You sound like you got a script, but you don't got a checkbook," Jackson said. "You got a cute sister? What's your mama look like?"

Jackson said he wasn't that scared of the snakes, but his agent was and made the production have a 20-foot clause in his contract. Thompson looked jokingly pissed at this and said, "I didn't have no clause. They were all over me!"

Fighting CGI snakes "was about as hard as working with nothing in 'Star Wars,'" said Jackson.

Asked if the snakes deserved to die, Jackson quoted his character from "A Time to Kill": "Hell yeah, they deserved to die. And I hope they burn in hell!"

"Snakes on a Plane" opens nationwide on August 18.

Kenan Thompson and David Ellis Director David Ellis and snake wrangler Jules Sylvester

 
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