One of the WWE’s worst performing financial departments of their business right now is their film division and Vince McMahon is finding his latest non-wrestling venture to be much of a fool’s errand. Simply put, WWE Studios is not making money and it’s not enhancing the profiles of the WWE stars as global brands as originally intended. The films aren’t making dough and neither are they bringing in cash as advertising for their bread and butter.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, McMahon is quoted as saying at an investors conference call at the beginning of the month;
“We have not been pleased with the rate of return in the movie business… We’ve invested $120 million in 15 films which have generated a loss, but we still expect to break even, but it’s well below our internal projections. There are still compelling reasons to continue in this business, creating original content, global distribution on emerging channels, expands the visibility of our superstars to reach new fans, and a diverse portfolio and library that can be used in perpetuity.”
The problem with WWE Studios and it’s something that Simon Gallagher has blogged about previously is they are just greenlighting the wrong films with the wrong actors. There’s no upside to casting Triple H in a comedy or The Big Show as a doofus in Knucklehead as it doesn’t further enhance their wrestling persona’s. Why not use The Undertaker in a supernatural western as we’ve said previously (which would do gangbusters) or I don’t know… a movie about a wrestler? Mick Foley’s life for instance? They surely have the best platform for that?
They of course had the right idea with their first few releases See No Evil (which re-imagined Kane as a monster in a horror film) and The Marine and later 12 Rounds (John Cena as an action hero) but their latest string of releases just don’t seem to have a clue.
The latest WWE film strategy has been to give a very limited weekend theatre release for their new films, before later releasing them on home video to cut down distribution costs and marketing campaigns but the last two projects have not benefited from this and have still lost money. Triple H’s family comedy The Chaperone lost over $2 million for the company and even the change of pace by focusing on a seasoned and Oscar winning dramatic actor in Ed Harris for the poignant drama That’s What I Am which featured wrestler Randy Orton in a less prominent role as the parent who accuses school teacher Harris of being gay and getting the best reviews of any film they have done in the past, is going to loss about $1 million more than The Chaperone.
“We’re disappointed in our DVD sales (of the movies),” he said. “We had an award winning release entitled `That’s What I Am.’ It’s a little tough to eat those award winning sandwiches when they’re not successful, and cost up to $3 million. Our new idea is higher returns with lower risk. `That’s What I Am’ was a great movie, but it doesn’t necessarily play to our television audiences. Movies of the right genre is what is important, not good movies.”
McMahon has decided to cut the budgets of all future releases by $1 million and perhaps the biggest early victim of this is going to be their latest release Inside Out. WWE have spent almost minimal advertising on the movie and shockingly have even given it very little free promotion on it’s website and t.v. time despite it getting the limited theatre run on September 9th in the U.S.
Helping Triple H with his limited acting skills on this one are Michael Rapaport, Parker Posey and Bruce Dern. Here’s the trailer and plot synopsis for a film that actually looks like it might be ok;
For the last thirteen years AJ (Triple H) has been behind bars, convicted of manslaughter for killing a man who intended to kill his best friend, Jack (Michael Rapaport) a high-strung low-level mobster. Now released, AJ wants nothing more than to start a small business and live a life free of crime. Unfortunately, within hours of leaving prison, Jack involves AJ in an accidental shooting leaving a man dead.
When Jack’s father, local mob boss Dr. Vic (Bruce Dern), hears the news he wants the mess cleaned up, and fast. Meanwhile, Martha (Julie White) an agent for the Louisiana Tax Board, has been investigating Dr. Vic for smuggling counterfeit cigarettes into Louisiana and determined to bring Dr. Vic down and Jack. With the authorities hot on his trail, Jack is now forced to skip town.
Dr. Vic’s patience is wearing thin and he decides to take things into his own hands, looking for retribution. Well aware of Dr. Vic’s violent past, AJ will stop at nothing to protect Jack’s wife, Claire (Parker Posey), the woman he’s always loved and her daughter Pepper (Juliette Goglia).
After it’s brief theatrical run next month, Inside Out will be available on DVD from September 27th.