According to Twitter analytics company SocialGuide, about one in every eight people who tweeted about TV last night were discussing one thing: Sharknado, the film that premiered on Syfy about a town terrorized by shark-packed tornadoes.
The Asylum, the Burbank studio that created Sharknado, has created a string of low-budget films for customers like Syfy, Netflix, Redbox, and direct-to-DVD distributors. In the process, the Asylum has found a market in creating made-to-order films including 2-Headed Shark Attack, 100 Degrees Below Zero, and Age of Dinosaurs to buyers looking to differentiate themselves from the competition by offering cheap, original content.
H. Perry Horton, a screenwriter behind several of the Asylum’s films, told Pacific Standard:
“It’s not like we said, ‘There aren’t enough crappy B-level movies out there, so we must corner that market!’ We don’t really know the consumer. The consumer is too big and too fractionalized. All we know is we’re making a film for Netflix, and they tell us what they want.”
The Asylum may never win an Academy Award for Sharknado, and early Nielsen ratings indicate the film’s premiere didn’t attract very many viewers, but it has already won something even more valuable: the Internet. Even Mia Farrow got in on conversation with a (since-deleted) joke tweet about watching the film with author pal Philip Roth, and the EPA and National Weather Service got in on the fun with fake advisories. Not bad for a schlocky movie starring Tara Reid and the fourth male lead from Beverly Hills, 90210.