I recently had the… ahem… pleasure… of watching Sharknado 3: Oh Hell NO!, and it was, quite predictably, terrible. But that’s the point, right? Some films are so bad they’re good, and the Sharknado films have (somehow) built a franchise around being just that. So, all being terrible films, and that being the intention, does that make this one of the greatest trilogies of all time? No, of course not, they’re terrible. So… why do these films exist?
The Sharknado films are modern-day B movies, but they’re by no means the only ones. Sharktopus is another shark themed classic, which is also barely watchable, but there are some fairly decent ones out there, like Iron Sky and Machete. To clarify, when I say ‘fairly decent’, I still think they’re pretty terrible, but they’re entertaining enough in a bad way to be watchable for their respective run times.
B movies used to have a important place in the film industry. They were cheap and quick to make, so it didn’t matter if people didn’t like them, they would always at least make their money back. They were also used as part of a double feature when going to the cinema, so they would play before the film you had intended to watch. Well, that’s not a thing anymore. These days B movies are relegated to the Syfy channel, or god forbid, Movies 4 Men. When they do get a cinematic release, they very rarely make an impact at the box office (I’m looking at you Machete Kills and Snakes on a Plane) hence why even films that get a lot of attention online will rarely see a release in cinemas.
On top of this, there are a lot better ways to make cheap films turn a huge profit. The first Sharknado cost around $2 million to make, and only made back the money from distribution and advertising etc. This was obviously enough to make a sequel, but probably not a huge return on their investment. In comparison, the first Insidious (another franchise that became a trilogy this year) was made for $1.5 million, and made $97 million worldwide. Ouija was made for $5 million and made more than $102 million worldwide. Unfriended made for $1 million and made back $48 million at the box office. You might think these strange comparisons, but they’re all horror films, as most B movies tend to B (HA!), and they’re all made by the same production company – Blumhouse, who I’ve discussed before.
So, there are better ways to make money out of cheap films, and there isn’t really anywhere for these films once they’re made like there used to be, so I have to ask again, why do these films exist? There are two possible answers that I can think of. It could be that the cult fan bases that follow films like this are demanding enough, and will buy any film with a ridiculous enough title (Zombeavers anyone?) that it continues to be financially rewarding enough to keep making them. Or it could be something much better. Maybe, just maybe, people love making these films. As much as I’m not a fan, nobody’s forcing me to watch any of these films, and if making them keeps some people happy, no matter how few, I have to respect that.
What do you think about B movies? Do they still have a place in the industry? Share any thoughts in the comments.
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