Tara Reid Sharknado

The Discovery Channel owns Shark Week and has for more than 20 years now. So, how does Syfy intend to take a bite out of the franchise? One day at a time.

That’s the plan of attack on July 11 when Syfy launches its own shark marathon around the debut of the hotly anticipated original movie Sharknado.

Haven’t heard of it yet? That’s okay. How many people heard of Plan 9 from Outer Space before it became a cult classic with a reputation for being the worst (meaning best) movie of all time? That’s the kind of buzz Sharknado is generating after a surprising reception at Cannes, an awesome trailer, and a single movie poster made the rounds on the web.

The campy film stars Tara Reid and John Heard (Wait. He’s a good actor, right?), whose far-flung orbits crash into each other after a freak hurricane strikes LA, dropping (wait for it) killer sharks out of the maelstrom and on to the streets. Neato! Special effects being what they are today means any premise has teeth, so why not sharks falling from the sky and chewing up the scenery?

The unexpected buzz has Syfy programming execs champing at the bit, so they’re launching their most audacious bid yet for becoming THE shark destination channel with a mini-marathon of shark-themed movies before and after the premiere of Sharknado on Thursday. The hook? They’re mainly Syfy originals.

Peppering the schedule (in between airings of Defiance, Primeval: New World and Stargate Universe) with movies produced by the Asylum brand (Malibu Shark Attack, Sharktopus, Swamp Shark, etc.), Syfy is trawling the waters for fresh victims and hoping to bite off a chunk of Discovery’s Shark Week monopoly.

It’s going to take more than one day of marathon programming to reel in the great white of Shark Week, but the Syfy approach is novel and will appeal to viewers looking for something more fun with their fins than Discovery’s documentaries normally provide. Considering the SyFy marathon and Shark Week are actually weeks apart, Sharknado and company won’t really have an impact on Discovery’s ratings, but it’s a fun idea that will get a boost because it is in the Shark Week lead up. And if SyFy decide to make it an annual event, shark lovers will have an extra reason to be excited each summer.

Sharknado swims onto Syfy on Thursday, July 11, at 9 p.m. EST.

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