It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... a tornado filled with sharks? Though no one planned for the mass appeal of recent low budget Syfy hit "Sharknado," it's likely you've heard of it. "Sharknado" went viral on Twitter and other social media platforms, generating more than 5,000 tweets a minute during its first airing on Syfy on July 11. Celebrities joined in on the fun, with Olivia Wilde tweeting to Elizabeth Banks: "@ElizabethBanks Banks, this is our chance to play Siamese twins: two heads, one magnificent shark tail. Emmys all around. # SharknadoTwo"
"Sharknado" even joined the likes of Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen, filed under, "Things Mia Farrow is Interested In." She joke- tweeted a photo of herself and author Philip Roth at a dinner party during the broadcast, saying "We're watching # Sharknado." You know when Mia Farrow takes you in, you're a big deal.
"Sharknado" set a record during its third airing July 27 with 2.1 million viewers, compared with 1.4 million during its first airing. It's now officially the most watched original movie encore in Syfy history, according to the network. All of this fame led the insta-cult classic to its big screen debut in a special midnight showing Aug. 2 at 225 theaters across the country.
For those who can't get enough "Sharknado," the final Syfy airing this summer will be on Aug. 22, leading into the premiere of "Ghost Shark." "Sharknado" director Anthony C. Ferrante and star Tara Reid had a few more things to say during a recent conference call.
Q: What is it like to be a part of the phenomenon?
Anthony Ferrante: One of the theories it's so popular is that it's a safe disaster movie, there's no danger of a shark destroying buildings. Another is that there are a lot of families that watched it together, and it's a fun thing to do. A lot of families watched it together and really had a blast. With a movie like this, it wasn't force-fed, the audience discovered it. We all cared about it, and it showed.
Tara Reid: It's incredible. None of us had no idea this was going to happen. It just shows you so much of the power of social media these days. People were tweeting about how it made them closer, like husband and wife, and just to think that a movie could bring people together like that and have joy and laughter, it's an amazing feeling.
One in a billion chances that this happened, and miracles happen every once in a while, and we're so blessed to be involved in it.
Q: Can you plan to make a cult film ahead of time?
Reid: From "American Pie," to "The Big Lebowski," to "Van Wilder," you just never know. You can never know if what you're making is going to work or not, you just have to see how people take it.
Q: How do you approach a film so absurd?
Reid: I read the script, and it was like, out of control. I couldn't stop laughing, and I was like, I have to do this. I wanted it to be called "Dark Skies." I was like, I can't have "Sharknado" on my IMDB. But it all ended up working out for us.
Ferrante: The concept is crazy. This was an opportunity to do a lot of visual effects and comedy. When I got on board, I wanted to do even more crazy things, like the boat shootout with the sharks attacking. Once you accept the concept, as long as the characters are playing it straight, everything else is really funny. And that's kind of the approach we took with the movie.
Q: What about the sequel?
Reid: I can't really get involved yet; with no script I think it's really a process where we'll all sit down and talk together.
Ferrante: Nothing has really been discussed yet, and no one has been hired. It's all just talk at this point. One thing people are attracted to is the dynamic, and I think if there's a sequel, there has to be some family dynamic, that's really the heart of the film. There are no military or scientists in "Sharknado," and I think that with the sequel I'd like that to stay the same. They're trying to survive, just like we would, and I think even if it's set in New York, we'd like no military or scientists to figure out how to stop a Sharknado, it has to be a ragtag group of underdogs and our core family.
Q: What is unique about "Sharknado" when compared with other films such as "Sharktopus"?
Reid: They're all different films. Each film is its own film. The humor in our film, it's so funny. It's not sexual, or too much blood or scary in it, and it made people sit down and laugh and it's fun.
Ferrante: "Sharknado" is a very bizarre film. I think we got lucky. It could've been "Swamp Shark," but it was "Sharknado."
Q: What could you have done with a larger budget, or do you think the low budget make it more special?
Ferrante: When you have a smaller budget, you're like a scrappy underdog. I think it's part of the film's charm. We're trying to compete with the big boys, but we don't have the toys or the tools. It forces you to be more creative.
Q: What is it about sharks that makes them so popular in movies?
Reid: People are fascinated with monsters, sharks, vampires. And sharks are like one of the most powerful things in the underworld. In the sea, what everyone fears the most is a shark.
Ferrante: "Jaws" kind of kicked it off, and as digital effects became more accessible in the low budget world, you started seeing all of these sort of hybrid effects pop up. I think part of it is that sharks, we fear, and I think when you put an octopi on top of it, or give it two heads or put it inside a tornado, it becomes more accessible and fun, and it takes the fear away in a weird sort of respect. I think we were all scared to go into the water with "Jaws," and now we're all relieved that we can laugh at sharks.
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