Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
The Syfy Network has made a name for itself over the years with fun, campy B-movies. Most of the time, these movies exist in a moment, they're enjoyed by a specific group of fans, and that's the end of it.
That wasn't the case with "Sharknado." Not by a long shot.
When the shark-meets-tornado thriller debuted last summer, it was met with a level of enthusiasm no one expected.
"We definitely didn't know it was going to become what happened," star Tara Reid said in a conference call last week. "It was definitely shocking for all of us. We had no clue signing on to the movie that this would be this phenomenon. So you know, it was a great and kind of shocking experience.
"And it turned into something wonderful. Now to be a part of the franchise has been incredible. But yes, we definitely, we didn't know - we got real lucky."
Thanks in large part to Twitter, and thousands of "Are you watching this?" tweets, the movie's audience grew from 1.4 million viewers when it debuted, to 1.9 million for the first encore, and 2.1 million for the third, Saturday night encore.
"It's hard with these things. You never - you know, you just try to make the best project possible and, you know, what happened on this thing ... it's lightening in a bottle," director Anthony C. Ferrante said. "We didn't tell people to show up and make it a Twitter phenomenon. It just happened. And that's kind of cool."
"Sharknado" attracted fans across genres.
"We had a core audience for this movie, but somehow the mainstream became attracted to it," Ferrante said. "We had the sports community embracing us, and we really didn't have any sports elements in the first movie. We had families getting together, watching it with their kids. We did not set out to make a kid movie, but there are a lot of kids that love this film, because it had sort of that 11-year-old spirit.
"So I think what happened was that it's just - there was something silly about the title and it seemed ridiculous, but when you saw the trailer it was - it looks like the big studio movie or trying to be. And so I think people were ... we were daring them to watch it to see if we could fail, and yet we kept delivering every 10 minutes with some big action-set piece."
"It's so hard to get something like this, and you can't really take it apart and say it was this or that," he added. "It's just, you know, we somehow - we were this fun little film that people didn't have to spend ... $50 at a movie theater to go take their family to. They get to watch it in the privacy of their home and they had a blast. They made fun of it. They loved it. They hated it. I mean it was just - it was great."
Syfy wasted no time in announcing a sequel. The network took to Twitter to find a name, and it was revealed "Sharknado 2: The Second One" would debut in the summer of 2014.
"You know, you get those - you very rarely get those opportunities like that where people just want to embrace you, just because you're there," Ferrante said. "And that was kind of - it was kind of special. And (it) helped, because now we got to make a second movie, and we got to make a bigger and better movie after that. So it's fun."
In "The Second One," L.A. shark storm survivors Fin (Ian Ziering) and April (Reid) remarkably find themselves in the center of another "Sharknado" - this time in the heart of New York City.
When asked what fans can expect from the sequel, Reid simply said, "More sharks."
The film's stars, Ziering and Reid, had no second thoughts when asked to reprise their roles.
"I was on board right from the get-go," he said. "You know, what's so nice about 'Sharknado' is that it really is not competing with itself, and the bar that it set initially is not - you know, one ... that's unattainable. This was a low-budget, independent film - you know, a very campy nature.
"So, really, the only way to screw it up would be to change it. And the brilliance of 'Sharknado 2' is the fact that it's more of the same. It's a similar formula, but it's a different experience - similar situation in a new environment. And if people liked one, they're going to love two."
"I agree with Ian exactly," Reid said. "I mean, I - he couldn't have said it better. You know, when I read the first one and went out to dinner that night with my friends, I told them I thought the script was hilarious. I was - 'Yes, sharks are flying in Beverly Hills, and maiming people and jumping out of pools.'
"And my friends are laughing so hard. They're like, 'Are you kidding me? This is amazing; you'll have to do this.' So it's so funny, you have to do it. So the next day, I called my agent and I'm like, 'Alright, let's do it.'
"And never knowing it would become the phenomenon it did but, you know, it worked. You know, people really enjoyed it. And then we learned from the first one, and I think made it even better."
"Sharknado 2: The Second One" boasts a large number of cameos - everyone from Matt Lauer to Judah Friedlander to Kelly Osbourne - and a new lead, "Independence Day" and "Kill Bill" star VivicaA. Fox.
The film debuts tonight at 9 p.m. on Syfy, and will be shown again throughout the weekend.
To mark the occasion, Syfy is showcasing "Sharknado" swag in select retail locations. If the sequel does well with viewers, and if Twitter helps again, a third act of flying fins seems likely.
"Sharknado 2: The Second One": Ian Ziering takes action as Fin Shepard. (NBC photo by Will Hart)
Pictured at the "Sharknado 2" screening party are Tara Reid and Ian Ziering. (NBC photo by Chris Haston)