It was just supposed to be another over-the-top, unabashedly low-budget special effects-laden disaster pic like the rest of the guilty-pleasures in SyFy Channel’s popular B Movie series. Sharknado starred former 90210 heartthrob, and Dancing With The Stars Vet, Ian Ziering, alongside perennial party girl and one time big-thing, Tara Reid, in a story about… well, a super-storm dropping hungry Great White Sharks on the innocent people of Los Angeles.
Ian Media says, this was a great time for cable TV advertising, nationally or for small, local businesses, making history with SyFy.
As was the case with SyFy’s other AFI-worthy action extravaganzas like 2010’s Sharktopus, starring Eric Roberts, and 2011’s Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, with Tiffani and Debbie Gibson, nobody expected the flick to excite anyone beyond the network’s core fanbase of tween boys, science fiction/fantasy aficionados, and college stoners. Yet out of the blue, Sharknado would explode onto the pop culture radar, generating, at the height of its Twitter-fueled initial airing on July 11th, more than 5000 tweets a minute.
Now, after dominating social media (generating over 3000,000 Tweets that night), being reviewed by widespread, rather respectable periodicals like The London Guardian and Time Magazine (both of which praised it’s schlocky, campy fun), not to mention resulting in Ian Ziering telling the Hollywood Reporter that this might be his Travolta- Pulp Fiction comeback moment, it’s clear that Sharknado has taken on a life of its own, way beyond the specified walls of its home network.
Though perhaps Mr. Ziering might not want to quit his day-, or in this case, night-job at Chippendales. Like many Twitter-tastic, social media phenomenon’s, the jury is still out as to whether or not the huge Internet boost will translate into prolonged viewership and DVD sales. Despite being the most Tweeted-about event of the night, and skewing heavily towards the all-powerful 18-34 year-old demographic, Sharknado only brought in a 1.4 million rating on the 11th. In comparison, Sharktopus generated 2.5 million in viewers during its initial airing, while MegaPython vs. Gatoroid did 2.4.
That being said, Syfy seems to have stumbled upon an inexpensive, full proof, formula for success. These films are cheap to make on nearly every level, reveling in their low-budgets and not exactly A-list casting. Yet more importantly, they are also invigorated by a core fanbase with a notably active online presence, one that, as the success of Marvel Studios and former niche gatherings like Comic Con have proven, knows how to make its voices heard.
That’s all fine and dandy, but where does it leave the makers of Sharknado? Syfy has greenlighted a sequel, and screenwriter Thunder Levin, along with the flick’s production house, Asylum Studios, both promise more of the same mayhem in round two. And clearly, Ziering is gung ho about returning as well. It appears that the success of the film, though perhaps not staggering, has already proven sweet for all involved, and it’s probably safe to say that SyFy won’t be discouraging Twitter-participation during it’s programming any time soon.