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Sharknado 2 takes a bigscreen bite at local theaters next week

Contributing columnist

You watched it for free.

And now you can pay to see it on the big screen.

Fathom Events has once again joined forces with Syfy and The Asylum to unleash Sharknado 2: The Second One to more than 400 screens across the nation on Thursday, Aug. 21 – including locally at the Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 and The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX.

In the original Sharknado, the California coast was rocked by inexplicable storms that sent residents fleeing as hundreds of hungry sharks were deposited across the landscape. This time, it’s the Big Apple that gets bitten – as a similar storm front yields similar results on the East Coast.

The original Sharknado became an instant social-media phenomenon and cult classic when it premiered on Syfy on July 11, 2013. During the broadcast, the film amassed 5,000 tweets per minute and over 400,000 social mentions – mostly from viewers who couldn’t believe what they were seeing but couldn’t resist staying tuned anyway.

Last August, Fathom Events teamed with Syfy and The Asylum to present Sharknado in hundreds of theaters nationwide, and the result was equally instantaneous. Only a few weeks ago, Fathom presented the special “RiffTrax” screening of Sharknado featuring commentary from “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” stalwarts Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett.

The Syfy premiere of Sharknado 2 on July 30 was even bigger than the original, as nearly four million viewers tuned in – a Syfy ratings record. More sharks evidently means more ratings. Is it any wonder that a nationwide screening event was soon arranged?

Director Anthony C. Ferrante’s again at the helm (and makes a cameo appearance), with original Sharknado leads Ian Ziering and Tara Reid back in action battling the onslaught of toothy intruders on the streets of Gotham, backed by a star-studded cast including Vivica A. Fox, Kari Wuhrer, Mark McGrath, Judah Friedlander and Kelly Osbourne, plus a bevy of celebrity cameos including Robert Hays, Wil Wheaton (and real-life wife Anne), Judd Hirsch, Perez Hilton, Richard Kind, “Downtown” Julie Brown, Rachel True, Andy Dick, Kurt Angle, Billy Ray Cyrus and, as themselves, Al Roker and Matt Lauer from “The Today Show,” Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan from “Live with Kelly and Michael” (with producer Michael Gelman also playing himself).

Rest assured, not everyone will be in one piece by the time the end credits roll!

In addition to the requisite scenes of shark-related mayhem, Sharknado 2 is also jam-packed with in-jokes and nods to other films. There characters named “Finn,” “Brody,” “Quint” and “Vaughn.” (Hey, I never said those nods were subtle.)

Those who attend the screening will also enjoy an exclusive sneak peek into the making of the film, including special effects and bloopers … and likely a surprise or two.

In an official statement, Fathom Events CEO John Rubey noted: “We anticipate the tidal wave of Sharknado fans will hit local movie theaters once again this August as fans get their next chance to experience this phenomenon in the biggest way possible.”

Nothing breeds like success and nothing succeeds like excess; Syfy has already given the go-ahead to Sharknado 3 … and would anybody be truly surprised if “Riff- Trax” doesn’t eventually take a crack at Sharknado 2 at some point? It’s clearly a franchise with bite – a lot of bite. !

WANNA go?

Sharknado 2: The Second One will be screened 8 pm Thursday, Aug. 21 at the Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave.) and The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX (5601 University Parkway). Tickets at Greensboro Grande and The Grand 18 are $12.50 (general admission). For advance tickets or more information, check out www.FathomEvents.com.

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