‘Sharknado 3’ Screenwriter Says Franchise ‘Saved the Entire Human Race’

Thunder Levin discusses the Syfy movie series’ appeal, the death of water cooler talk and who he wants cast in the next installment

When Syfy debuted “Sharknado,” its ridiculous disaster-movie parody about sharks swept up in a tornado and attacking humans, it became a huge trending topic on social media. Its success led to two sequels, “Sharknado 2: The Second One” in 2014 and “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” premiering Wednesday.

Screenwriter Thunder Levin penned all three movies, which he freely admits are “silly fun.” But he also says that their social media success is the result of a human desire to connect over shared experiences.

“I think there’s this craving for shared communal experiences,” Levin told TheWrap. “And so I think ‘Sharknado’ gave us that. It was sort of the first communal experience of the Internet age. And I think that that’s something that our psyches crave. So in a way, ‘Sharknado’ has saved the entire human race.”

Levin went on to discuss the franchise’s appeal, his dream casting for future installments and Discovery’s “Shark Week.”

Why do you think the “Sharknado” has proven so popular?
Levin: Because it’s a lot of fun. There’s sharks falling from the sky — what more can you ask for? It doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think it’s the first of these crazy mash-up title movies to actually deliver on the silly fun that the title promises.

If you want to get deep about it — and I’m not sure we should be doing that about something called “Sharknado” — I think there’s this craving for shared communal experiences. That’s sort of broken down in the last 10 or 15 years, as everybody is watching things on different devices in different ways at different times in different places. So the “water cooler conversation” is sort of gone … I think “Sharknado” gave us that. It was sort of the first communal experience of the Internet age. And I think that that’s something that our psyches crave. So in a way, “Sharknado” has saved the entire human race.

How do you keep that “silly fun” from growing tired over three movies?
I guess I’m just a genius, I don’t know. Part of it has been the arc, [Ian Ziering’s] character and making sure we always circle back to that. Part of it is making sure we find different ways to kill sharks and for sharks to kill people. You know, it’s really a matter of just letting your imagination run wild. There are really almost no limits on what we can do. You can’t go too far in something called “Sharknado.”

How do you walk the line between playing it straight and still being in on the joke?
To be honest, that’s the thing I’m proudest of. That’s what I think the key is to this whole thing. A lot of these low-budget B movies take themselves too serious. They’re deadly serious, and they don’t understand that in this low-budget arena, people are going to laugh, and it’s better to have them laugh with you than laugh at you … I don’t know that there’s some magic formula to it.

Is there a guest star you haven’t gotten whom you’d want to be in a “Sharknado” movie?
I would love to see Harrison Ford. I can’t imagine that would happen, but I would love that. There was talk of how great it would be to get Bill Murray in one of these. And who knows, maybe it would appeal to his odd sense of humor. And I’d love to see William Shatner in one, although he turned us down for the second one, so I don’t know if that’s really likely.

Do you watch “Shark Week” on Discovery? Why do you think people are so fascinated with sharks?
It was nice of them to reschedule it to get it out of our way. [Sharks are] the bogeyman. They’re the monster in the dark. We can’t see them coming. We go out into the water, and we don’t know what’s right beneath our feet. So that’s scary and fascinating … Traditionally the way of dealing with them is to stay out of the water. And now you can’t even do that. So, my apologies.