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Social Media v.s. Jaws in Success of Sharknado

Updated on July 26, 2014
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Sharknado's Success

Will Sharknado 2 create the same social media storm that Sharknado created when it first aired on the SyFy channel on July 11, 2013?

There is no denying that Sharknado was a success, but what is to blame for the success? Is it the fact that viewers have been obsessed with enormous man-eating sharks since Steven Spielberg first introduced us to Jaws in 1975, or have we all become obsessed with trending topics on social media? Maybe it’s a combination of the two.

The made for television B movie is about a tornado that lifts sharks out of the ocean and tosses them all over Los Angeles. Residents fear for their lives as sharks attack in the most unpredictable places. People are swallowed whole.

When Sharknado first aired on the SyFy channel on July 11, 2013, it became the source of thousands of tweets per minute. Hashtag #Sharknado became a worldwide trending topic making it SyFy’s most social telecast ever. SyFy made the smart move to capitalize on the looming social media storm that Sharknado had created by re-airing the movie three more times within the same month. The movie continued to create a buzz and holds the record for most watched original film encore in SyFy history.

Jaws didn’t have a hashtag, but he did have a catchy theme song. Just a couple of piano keys and viewers knew the enormous great white that had been terrorizing Amity Island was about to attack. As gruesome and unlikely as some of the attack scenes were, viewers couldn’t look away, and they still can’t. Since Jaws a frenzy of killer shark movies have been created including Jaws 2, 3 and 4, Shark Attack, Deep Blue Sea, Open Water, Shark Night and many others. The sharks become larger, the attacks become scarier, and Sharknado is no exception.

The idea of a man-eating monster lurking in dark, unsettled water has become a phenomenon. It has also become the basis of an intense plot, and one of the most well-known villains in horror movie history. Without Jaws, would Sharknado seem completely taboo? A tornado made out of sharks is taboo, but it has blood and gore, its SyFy and it’s completely outrageous which means it has marketability. It also has Ian Ziering for all you 90210 fans. The idea of the shark as the predator, the human as the prey, and one heroic man facing his fears to save others closely resembles the plot of Jaws.

Perhaps Jaws paved the way for these other monster shark movies, but social media generated an intense amount of publicity for Sharknado. Whether the Twitter comments were positive or negative, the made for television movie got an insane amount of feedback from start to finish.

Sharknado 2 will air on July 30, 2014. One can only wonder if the movie will offer any scenes that match up to the moment when Ian Ziering cut himself out of the stomach of a shark with a chainsaw, and managed to pull someone else out too.

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