Last night saw the premiere of Syfy’s Sharknado—a remake of 2000’s The Perfect Storm that replaced George Clooney with Tara Reid, and “the perfect storm” with a shark-tornado, thus making it even more perfect. And, as you already know because you’re on the Internet, it’s all anyone has been able to talk about: At the peak of its social media dominance last night, Twitter recorded around 5,000 Sharknado-related tweets per minute, with the film eventually generating enough social media impressions to come within a few thousand of matching the frenzied online reaction to Game Of Thrones’ “Rains Of Castamere” episode, whose rains didn’t even have sharks in them.
Comedians professional and pitiably amateur jumped at the chance to make animal-plus-natural disaster movie puns. Celebrities who were fortunate enough to be caught in neither sharknado nor Sharknado stood to the side, offering their famous person support. Even Mia Farrow got in on the action, her extensive work as a UNICEF ambassador compelling her to sound the alarm on the very real dangers of sharknados.
GIF walls were compiled. Mock sequel posters were drafted. Why, it’s possible even your Internet-averse aunt knows about it, as this morning on Today, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, and Natalie Morales performed a dramatic reading of some of the film’s most quotable lines, before Lauer did his usual Matt Lauer thing by asking how sharks could possibly survive out of water long enough to form a tornado. Always asking the tough questions, Matt Lauer.
On that note, both the EPA and National Weather Service responded to the threat of Sharknado, preemptively staving off public fears of an actual sharknado. The EPA—as always!—fell back on its flimsy “science.” The National Weather Service’s Chris Vaccaro told Mother Jones that Sharknado’s premise is little more than “imagination-based entertainment,” but still added, “As with any waterspout or tornado, the best advice is to be in an interior part of the lowest floor of a sturdy building—and not outside, whether sharks are raining down or not.” Should you not be able to find shelter, citizens are also advised to carry chainsaws, so that you can leap inside a shark and chainsaw your way out.
As with everyone else in the entire world, the creators of Sharknado have also been making it clear today that, yes, they’re in on the joke: “We wouldn't have had our lead character swallowed whole by a shark and then chainsaw his way out of it if we weren't in on the joke,” director Anthony C. Ferrante tells The Hollywood Reporter, thus dispelling any doubts you might have had, for some reason. Syfy executive Thomas Vitale echoed Ferrante in Variety, saying that Sharknado’s social media success proves that, finally, “viewers understand what Syfy is doing with these campy features,” which is creating stuff so that people can "have a few laughs with no pretentiousness." (As opposed to more pretentious, cerebral examples of the genre, such as Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Giant-Ass Sharks.)
GQ responded to the sudden Sharknado mania by publishing a long look inside the movie’s “mock-buster” production company The Asylum from its August issue, outlining the pride it takes in creating self-acknowledged rip-offs. More to the point is this Pacific Standard profile of The Asylum, which details how it often creates films based solely around popular Netflix search terms and what will look good on a poster: “It’s exactly what you think it is—a tornado full of sharks,” explains producer Devin Ward in a tidy summation of Sharknado and the company’s philosophy. “That movie cannot be bad.”
Or rather, being bad is beside the point—as is Sharknado’s actual ratings, which really only worked out to around 1.4 million total viewers and a 0.4 in the adult demo, despite what its Twitter popularity might have suggested. As BusinessWeek notes, that’s “a bust, even by Syfy standards,” where most original movies average around 1.5 million, even ones without sharks in any form, -nado or no. Still, much like Syfy and The Asylum’s approach to the film itself, it doesn’t really matter: Syfy has already announced plans to rerun Sharknado next Thursday “given the enormous popular demand,” providing those who missed it the chance to get in on the action, a week after everyone else will have already made all the Sharknado jokes.
And, of course, there’s already talk of an inevitable sequel, with Ferrante saying, “I don’t want to compare this to Star Wars, but if this is Star Wars, then you’ve got to make Empire Strikes Back—whatever version of that Empire Strikes Back is of a Sharknado sequel.” Darker and more complex, in other words, perhaps with the revelation that the Sharknado is Ian Ziering’s father.
And, obviously, bigger: Perhaps the Sharknado will combine with a Tunami; perhaps it will clash with the terrifying Fish-pun-derstorm. Perhaps avowed fan Mia Farrow will get on board for a dramatic tale of one woman’s complex relationship with her shark-filled tornadoes, Hannah And Her Sharknados. Perhaps we could just go on and on like this for the rest of our lives, negating the need for any more actual Sharknado movies, until we are all just dust on the shark winds….