Which of the Feature Films is the Most-SNL?

by Kathrine Esten

58 films (not including TV Movies) surpassed the 1.0 SNL coefficient line set in our project. Among these, the film with the highest coefficient (a whopping 8.706) was … drum rollConeheads (1993).

In a close second, with 8.175, is Wayne’s World 2, released only a few months later in 1993. What makes Coneheads take the cake over all other SNL and potential SNL media?

For those unfamiliar with the film, Coneheads draws from a recurring sketch in the earliest seasons of SNL. Invented as a “total pothead sketch” by combining sketch ideas from Dan Aykroyd (1975-1979) and Tom Davis (1975-2003), the Coneheads are a family of extraterrestrials with towering bald conical heads who must blend into American suburban life. 1 The starring roles of married couple Beldar and Prymaat were filled by Aykroyd and Jane Curtin (1975-1980).

In saying that this is the “Most-SNL Feature Film, we are not arguing that it is good. (Although Robyn Bahr of Vice made a compelling argument for the film’s relevance in 2017 2). Instead, we draw from specific data points to show how the cast and writers of the show over multiple decades relied on SNL connections to make this project in its final form.

We can also examine our other data to look at why, out of all the early SNL sketches, this one made it to the silver screen. Out of the seven Not Ready for Primetime Players, Aykroyd has the most qualifying feature films at 13. This includes three based on SNL sketches, but also several projects spearheaded by other SNL alums (ie. Tommy Boy (1995))

In contrast, Chevy Chase has six qualifying films. Curtin and Gilda Radner have five; Lorraine Newman has four; Garrett Morris and John Belushi each have three. Our data might suggest that Aykroyd’s continued collaboration made it more likely that his sketches were adapted into larger projects or that his work attracted other SNL alum.

However, we also took this opportunity to examine the producer of the film: Lorne Michaels. We artificially inflated Michaels’ impact as his coefficient was initially low due to lack of acting or minimal writing credits. Pulling from his fims alone, we can see that he has been associated with a consistent number of projects in the past 50 years.

As seen on the chart, Michaels’ didn’t cease producing films in the late 1990s, though the SNL coefficients in his films plummeted after this decade with the exception of several documentaries and MacGruber (2010). At the same time, the number of qualifying television series with Michaels’ involvement increased.

Our data suggests that over time, SNL alum have had an increasing preference to move into television projects rather than feature films, perhaps bringing their SNL connections with them.


  1. Shales, T. and J.A. Miller. (2002). Live from New York: An Uncensored History of *Saturday Night Live * Thomas W. Shales and Jimmy the Writer, Inc. 

  2. Bahr, R. (2017) “Does ‘Coneheads’ Actually Suck?” Vice. https://www.vice.com/en/article/kz349z/does-coneheads-actually-suck 

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