Last night. Twitter fell in love with a little film that examined the human spirit in the face of adversity. A film about a hardscrabble bunch of Los Angelinos, armed only with their wits plus chainsaws and explosives, who banded together to battle an onslaught of tornados filled with still-living ravenous sharks. What the aptly-titled Sharknado lacked in scientific plausibility and basic rules of logic, it made up for in schlocky fun and social media super buzz.
I was not aware of Sharknado before last night and only came in the last half-hour of the made-for-TV movie after discovering the description while clicking around. And how could you not--out of sheer curiosity--tune into a movie about tornados filled with sharks that also stars Tara Reid and Ian Ziering? As soon as I had a small taste of the film's heroically horrible effects and unfathomably bad dialogue, I knew that I had take to social media to snarkalate, only to discover that the micro-blogging platform was already full tilt on team #sharknado.
Surprisingly, #Sharknado managed to expand beyond the sarcastic media influencers you would expect to snark on a SyFy channel original and found its way into the feeds of respected actresses-cum activists, national news anchors, and senatorial candidates. According to social tracker hashtag.org, the #sharknado tag exploded from barely a whisper into six-digit/hour territory nearly as soon as the film debuted at 9 p.m. ET.
A bite out of the ratings?
Could this unexpected social media boom translate into ratings gold? The early numbers don't seem to reflect that. According to The Los Angeles Times, despite the microblogging attention, the film garnered a little more than 1 million viewers and a paltry 0.4 rating among the much-coveted 18-49 year old demographic. To put that in some perspective, the top-rated cable program on Wednesday was a re-run of The Big Bang Theory on TBS, which scored 2,873,000 viewers and 1.3 in the 18-49 demo. (Full ratings for Thursday, when Sharknado aired, were yet not available.)
Like Snakes on a Plane proved in the pre-Twitter era, social buzz around a campy concept will rarely translate into a moneymaking venture. According to Box Office Mojo, despite a huge pre-launch interest, SoaPonly barely made back its production budget of $33 million in domestic total gross--that's a total dud by most Hollywood standards.
However, that doesn't mean that Sharknado is done making money. In fact, the self-described low-budged film which was plastered together in a ludicrously short 18-day shoot, has probably already made its miniscule budget back in advertising revenue. SyFy has already made plans to re-air the film in primetime and the film will most certainly be available in various on-demand formats. No pun intended: Sharknado will have a long tail. Additionally, as the film's creators have proven that they have little-to-no regard for internal story logic, there is no reason that there could not be a sequel in the works.
So keep watching the seas for the inevitable Shark-nami.