The SyFy Network is beating the drum that their latest low rent crap-o-rama SharkNado, about a tornado dropping sharks on people, was a huge success.
Their metric was that the movie generated over 5,000 tweets a minute about it during its premiere.
However, in the real world, their original movie was a ratings disaster, generating only a little more than 1.3 million views, which is pretty bad, even for cable.
So what happened?
Basically the whole thing had the air of a really bad joke right from the beginning. People were willing to joke about it, in fact lots of people were willing to joke about it, but very few people were willing to invest the time and mental/emotional/aesthetic punishment required to actually watch it.
And that's the root of the problem with SyFy's original movies.
They're bad jokes.
Bad, lazily composed, jokes with even worse CGI.
Even I joked on Twitter that SharkNado got the green-light because they have two big wheels at SyFy HQ, each covered in random words. They spin the wheels and whatever words come out on top are combined and that's the premise of the next movie. They then reach into a barrel filled with the names of washed up or otherwise unemployable "stars," and voila, they gotta movie!
I now realize that such online japery is part of the problem. SyFy is now using it as a sign of victory, and while it's obvious that such strategies don't work, I've never met a media company that's found a bad idea they just couldn't give up.
And the saddest part is that it is possible to make watchable entertaining science fiction, horror, and fantasy, for television on a low or even micro-budget. Going for badness in the name of "campiness" is a cover for extreme laziness and unoriginality.
I know it's possible, because I've seen it done.
When I was a kid some of the scariest movies I saw weren't R-Rated slash-fests that were all over the theatres back then. They were TV movies, shot with low budgets and tight schedules, and made up for their limited resources with two little things called story, and creativity.
There's no reason why those can't be used today to make science fiction, fantasy, and horror films for television other than laziness and fear of originality.
It's what makes hits, and while it requires actual work, the results will be way more satisfying.
Damn, I'm sounding like a cranky old man.
GET OFF MY LAWN!