8:05pm PT by Will Harris
'Sharknado 4' Greenlighted: Fans to Vote on Tara Reid's Fate
After Sharknado and its first sequel took social media by storm to the tune of more than a billion tweets between the two films, Syfy upped the stakes for Wednesday's Sharknado 3.
The annual summer camp-fest ended with a piece of space shuttle wreckage hurtling toward April Shepard (Tara Reid) before cutting abruptly to black, after which a phrase is plastered on the screen: You decide if #AprilLives or #AprilDies.
The text was accompanied by the voice of an announcer, who declared, "Now's your chance to be part of Sharknado history! You decide if April lives or April dies by tweeting your choice now or by going to Sharknado.syfy.com to vote. "Her fate will be revealed in Sharknado 4 … because we're not done yet!"
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with the executive responsible for the ending, the castmembers most likely to be affected by the twist and the man who helmed the film in order to explore the origins of the social media ending, the effects it had on the actors and their hopes for how the stunt will play out.
Chris Regina, senior vp program strategy at Syfy/Sharknado 3 associate producer
The original ending for the film that director Anthony C. Ferrante was passionate about was having it all end on the beach in this wonderful family moment where they all hold hands, look up at the sky, Fin salutes his dad, and then we fade out. I said, "That's great, but it sounds like the ending of a trilogy of a franchise that's not going to continue. It's a satisfying ending that doesn't go on." I wanted to take a page out of some of the classic television stunts that have been done and contemporize them. We needed to do something that was going to keep the audience in jeopardy and want to come back for another Sharknado. That led to the idea that I came up with in having the audience vote. Sharknado, more than anything on television, is a social interaction with the viewers, so we wanted to make it interactive. I'm hoping that we're going to break the Internet this time with the "April lives, April dies" at the end. I think it's going to be precedent-setting. I can't think of an instance where another network has done something of that nature at the end of an event. Hopefully it's a TV first.
Anthony C. Ferrante, director, Sharknado 3
Syfy has done a good job promoting and coming up with ways of sustaining the Twitter alliance; this is like a "Who shot J.R.?" ending [from Dallas]. It's perfectly in line with what we've been doing with Sharknado. In a way, Chris and I both get our endings. We still get the big family ending, you get satisfied with David Hasselhoff [Fin's dad] on the moon, you get some closure … and then we pull the rug out from under you. (Laughs.) Anything to sustain the life of Sharknado, right? (Laughs.) I know Syfy wants to continue making these movies, and to keep doing that, you've got to keep finding new and different ways to present the film. I think the social media ending accomplishes that. Will audiences like it? Well, they love tweeting about the movie, so why wouldn't they want to tweet whether April lives or dies?
Ian Ziering, Fin
Tara's such a good sport. When she saw the ending, her first response was, "Gulp!" But then she got it. This is a movie that's been made popular by social marketing, and she's a team player. Anything that can be done to increase awareness, to propel the brand, ultimately is going to lift her as well, so she took it in stride. I would have thought that it would have been a bit more of a hurdle emotionally for her. But she was cool with it. She took a breath, and then she was, like, "OK, let's shoot the shit out of it! Let's make it happen!" And when it was done, she was, like, "All right: it is what it is." It's not likely that she won't return. I mean, c'mon: if she can give birth in space in a f—ing spacesuit, only to have the baby emerge from a shark … (Laughs.) You really have to have a huge leash for creativity and imagination as a viewer to think that you've seen the end of April Shepard.
Tara Reid, April
That [vote ending] was a shocker! I didn't expect that! (Laughs.) I think that's going to be a big turning point for the franchise. It gives it some excitement, and it's giving the fans a chance to interact. Not only is it something to involve the fans in, but it's immediate, so it's exciting to see how they're going to react. No matter what happens, I'm proud to be a part of this phenomenon. If the fans and everyone decide that April's meant to survive, then that's what's meant to happen, and if it goes the other way, I'm a survivor, and I'll keep on doing great things. I've been working for 30 years, I've been a part of Sharknado and made history, and I'm planning to keep working for another 30 years. Hey, anything can happen. There are no rules in Sharknado!
Should April live or die? Share your thoughts on the Sharknado 3 ending, below. Click here for the inside scoop on George R.R. Martin's surprise Sharknado 3 cameo.