Although the ratings for “Sharknado”'s premiere on Syfy last year were lackluster despite the title burning up the Twitterverse (1.4 million viewers, well below 2010's “Sharktopus”' 2.5 million), that social media buzz eventually paid off — the third time the movie aired it brought in a record-breaking audience of two million. Of course, that opened the door for a sequel. “Sharknado 2: The Second One” is set to air Thurs. July 31 at 9:00 p.m., and NBC brought out talent from the project to speak to journalists at the network's summer press day. Not surprisingly the mood was jovial.
Director Anthony C. Ferrante admitted it wasn't much of a jump to get into sequel mode. “We feel like we never stopped making the first movie. That sort of energy is still there… we kept asking, how can we come up with crazier things?” A tornado of sharks hitting Manhattan turned out to be the crazier thing that stuck. “If we stayed in Los Angeles, it would have been boring.”
As ridiculous as the sharknado concept is, Kari Wuhrer (“Anaconda”) insisted, “We also have a human story. It's about people. It's about family.” She later added, “This one has a heart. Heart was our currency.”
Co-star Judah Friedlander (“30 Rock”) had a deadpan response to questions about coming up with a sequel idea. “What I hear you saying is the first movie is perfect and how do you top it, right?”
Friedlander also had a snappy response about whether or not there's a message to be found about climate change in “Sharknado 2.” “This, to me, is the most important film ever made about climate change.”
“It kicks El Nino's ass!” Wuhrer chirped!
Climate change may not be in the forefront of “Sharknado 2,” but it seemingly played a big role behind the scenes. With a tight schedule (“We shot Liberty Island in half a day, Times Square in half a day,” Ferrante said), shooting a movie set in summer in the dead of winter presented special challenges. “I would think, we have fifteen minutes to get to that? It takes me fifteen minutes to get off my parka and gloves,” Wuhrer said.
“It was snowing sideways,” said co-star Mark McGrath. “I felt we went to battle a little bit, which brought us closer.”
“We'd be doing a scene in Times Square and our faces wouldn't move we were so cold.”
Though Ferrante would not disclose the budget, and Friedlander joked “I worked two days and got five million dollars,” the tight pursestrings didn't stop the train of name cameos. “Many cameos we still can't reveal, but we have Judd Hirsch, Kelly Osbourne, Richard Kind…” Ferrante said.
“And some of the top shark actors in the world, even from overseas,” Friedlander added. “Some that studied at the Royal Academy in London.”
As for the crazy, flying sharks, expect more of the same. “When you think about what these guys put together, more than 500 visual effects in three months, it's [amazing],” Ferrante said, promising that the sequel will feature even more.
You can also expect laughs. “When you're unpretentious, you can be so much more creative,” Wuhrer said. “You have to believe it and keep it real so you care about the characters. We couldn't play it campy.”
“If you don't embrace [the story], you're making a movie that's not fun,” Ferrante said.
Are you going to watch “Sharknado 2: The Second One” or just tweet about it?