The man behind Syfy's cult-favorite trilogy makes a convincing argument for his work's cultural importance
This is not a drill: Sharknado screenwriter Thunder Levin has some pretty compelling reasons why the Syfy movie trilogy could actually save humanity as we know it – hear him out ….
“Not to get too deep about something called Sharknado,” Levin tells PEOPLE, “[but] our society was sort of built on shared communal storytelling experiences, whether it was cavemen sitting around the fire telling stories or the plays in the Greek amphitheaters or the commoners coming to hear Shakespeare.”
In the 21st century, Levin believes we’ve stumbled upon the first era without a form of entertainment that the public enjoys collectively. “The way we consume media has fractured, and now people are watching shows at different times on their phones and their iPads and their TVs and their computers,” he says. “We’ve sort of lost that shared communal experience, that common glue that binds us together.”
But all that changed when Sharknado splashed onto the small screen in 2013. That night, fans took to Twitter en masse to comment on the film, a consciously ironic yet no less Zeitgeist-y moment that has since been followed by other live-viewing experiences including NBC’s now annual musical spectaculars (The Sound of Music Live!, Peter Pan Live!).
Levin views live-Tweeting as a positive rather than a negative. “That’s really what made Sharknado the phenomenon. Without that, who would have paid attention no matter how fun it was?” comments Levin. “So really that night that Sharknado exploded on Twitter, it was the very first communal experience of the Internet age. And so, in a way, Sharknado is saving the entire human race.”
Levin and his team are hoping for a threepeat when Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! premieres. The film, staring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, promises to provide a jam-packed with action and celebrity cameos: Kendra Wilkinson, Jerry Springer, Holly Madison, Mark Cuban, Michelle Bachmann and Ann Coulter, to name a few.
“It really is a lot bigger than the first two …. It’s really kind of four movies in one,” Levin notes. “It’s an action movie in the vein of White House Down and Die Hard, then it’s a road movie, then it’s a disaster movie in a theme park and then it goes even beyond that and becomes something else. So it’s really the whole bag of tricks.”
Based on the mass of Sharknado devotees at Comic-Con alone, the fans are hungry for more films. “It’s great to see the way people react to it and the fun they have with it,” says Levin. “It’s just so gratifying to see the way people have taken to it.”
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.