Mak­ing Amer­ica bait again

The ‘Shark­nado’ phe­nom­e­non:

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

With its air­borne sharks, over-the-top gore and end­less cheesy cameos from fad­ing stars it ought to have flopped-but the vi­ral “Shark­nado” fran­chise shows no signs of los­ing its bite. A fifth film in five years, “Shark­nado 5: Global Swarm­ing,” is due for re­lease on Au­gust 6, build­ing on so­cial me­dia buzz that has turned the se­ries into one of the most pop­u­lar ever made for tele­vi­sion. An un­abashed homage to the B-movies of Hol­ly­wood’s Golden Age, the fran­chise stars “Bev­erly Hills 90210” alum Ian Zier­ing and Tara Reid from the “Amer­i­can Pie” films as hus­band and wife Fin and April Shep­ard.

Wher­ever they go, the hap­less cou­ple end up do­ing bat­tle with giant, mon­strous great whites that have been sucked into the air in freak storms and de­posited on un­sus­pect­ing pop­u­la­tions. “Each movie we get to do a dif­fer­ent genre. The last movie was a su­per­hero movie. We got to do ‘White House Down’ with sharks and a space movie in three,” An­thony C Fer­rante, who has di­rected all five in­stall­ments, told a panel at San Diego Comic-Con at the week­end.

“So this one was an in­ter­na­tional ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ James Bond movie, and it al­lowed us to do things we never thought we could ac­com­plish.” The fran­chise got off to a slow start, with “Shark­nado” only manag­ing 1.4 mil­lion view­ers dur­ing its first run. But re­peats and all-im­por­tant so­cial me­dia buzz made it into a cult clas­sic.

Odd ap­pear­ances

Its third air­ing pulled in 2.1 mil­lion view­ers, the most-watched re­peat of an orig­i­nal movie in the SyFy chan­nel’s his­tory. “Shark­nado 2: The Sec­ond One” at­tracted a view­er­ship of 3.9 mil­lion, the largest au­di­ence ever for SyFy, a unit of NBC Uni­ver­sal. By the time “Shark­nado 4: The 4th Awak­ens” came around, the se­ries had enough cul­tural ca­chet to at­tract fan fa­vorites like David Has­sel­hoff, Steve Gut­ten­berg, Jackie Collins and Lou Fer­rigno. The se­ries was also be­com­ing known for some odd ap­pear­ances-some­times way too long to be de­scribed as cameos-by the likes of right wing po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Ann Coul­ter and “Game of Thrones” au­thor Ge­orge R.R. Martin.

In the mean­time the movies have spawned a cot­tage in­dus­try of mer­chan­dise, from ac­tion fig­ures, comics and video games to the book “How to Sur­vive a Shark­nado and Other Un­nat­u­ral Dis­as­ters” by An­drew Shaf­fer. No one was more sur­prised by the sudden pop­u­lar­ity of the se­ries than its stars. “I re­mem­ber it was first called ‘Dark Skies.’ To have that on your re­sume, it sounds like a good movie,” Reid told fans at Comic-Con, many decked out in “Shark­nado” cos­tumes and t-shirts. “Then they told me it was called ‘Shark­nado’ and I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kid­ding me. I’ll never work again.’” Zier­ling, mean­while, said he or­dered his agent to get him off the project and joked that he had even con­sid­ered chang­ing his name so the movie wouldn’t ap­pear on his In­ter­net Movie Data­base en­try. The films have var­ied in their for­tunes with the crit­ics, the first at­tract­ing an ap­proval rat­ing of 82 per­cent on re­views col­la­tion web­site “Rot­ten Toma­toes.”

So­cial me­dia buzz

“Shark­nado 4” man­aged just 17 per­cent and was de­scribed by The Daily Beast as “another piece of dreary de­tri­tus”, yet it still pulled in al­most three mil­lion view­ers, buoyed by so­cial me­dia. Reid in par­tic­u­lar, with 380,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers and another 192,000 on In­sta­gram, has been a prize as­set for the fran­chise. “Shark­nado” prompted 318,000 tweets dur­ing its de­but air­ing-in an era when so­cial me­dia en­gage­ment is as im­por­tant for TV ex­ec­u­tives as eye­balls glued to the screen. “Shark­nado 2” be­came the most so­cial movie on TV ever, with 581,000 tweets around ten times as many as for “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent,” that sum­mer’s most pop­u­lar TV se­ries among Amer­i­cans.

In “Shark­nado 5,” which has the tagline “Make Amer­ica Bait Again,” Reid and Zier­ing are joined by Olivia New­ton-John and the Ital­ian model Fabio, who graced the cov­ers of nu­mer­ous ro­mance nov­els in the 1980s. SyFy de­buted a new trailer at Comic-Con show­ing Fin and April try­ing to save their son, who’s trapped in a shark­nado churn­ing up the world. The movie was a truly in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tion, shoot­ing in the UK, Aus­tralia and Bul­garia.

Play­ing them­selves are Bri­tish Olympic swim­mer Tom Da­ley, “Fan­tas­tic Beasts” star Dan Fogler and NBC News an­chor Jeff Rossen. “The studios have two to two-and-ahalf years to do a movie.

We’ve done five of these in five years,” said Fer­rante. “We started shoot­ing this movie in Jan­uary and we lit­er­ally de­liv­ered it last night. We went to five coun­tries but we also did in an im­pres­sive amount of time-the way only ‘Shark­nado’ can.”

An elderly Pales­tinian man walks through the Old City of the West Bank town of He­bron yes­ter­day.

This file photo shows a Shark­nado pa­rade dur­ing Comic-Con In­ter­na­tional in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia.

This file photo shows an Elvis im­per­son­ator per­form­ing on stilts pro­mot­ing the movie Shark­nado dur­ing Comic-Con In­ter­na­tional 2016 in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia.

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