WWE Studios get rights to ‘Day’

Comes hours after screening in Toronto

WWE Studios has acquired U.S. rights to post-apocalyptic thriller “The Day,” on the heels of its Midnight Madness screening at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

Deal was announced Friday afternoon at TIFF, less than 18 hours after the Midnight Madness showing.

Pic, directed by Douglas Aarniokoski, centers on five survivors over 24 hours who struggle to make a last stand with food and ammunition running out. Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell, Michael Eklund, Cory Hardrict, Dominic Monaghan and Shannyn Sossamon star.

“The Day,” written by Luke Passmore, also screened Monday at TIFF and drew interest from Lionsgate and several other distribs.

Guy A. Danella produced. Exec producers include Aarniokoski, Michael Finley, Tim James, Antonina Armato and Ross M. Dinerstein.

Deal comes shortly after WWE tapped Michael Luisi as the new head of WWE Studios (Daily Variety, Sept. 7).

Luisi had already started brokering co-productions with companies like Pathe UK to make the thriller “No One Lives.” Upon taking the job, Luisi told Daily Variety he would be looking to make WWE more active in the pickup game at fests like Toronto.

While WWE releases its films theatrically through Samuel Goldwyn, the company is in the midst of developing its own TV network for which it needs programming. Films would be prominently on the WWE Network when it launches, as well as help prop up its homevideo biz with programming not necessarily focused around its live events.

Filmmakers were repped by Preferred Content’s Kevin Iwashina and Dinerstein in making the deal.