WWE Studios unveiled its upcoming film slate at the company’s business summit, on Saturday morning, in Miami on the eve of “WrestleMania 28.”
It will follow that up with the Eric McCormack thriller, “Barricade,” on Sept. 25, another co-production with Vivendi.
The R-rated horror pic “No One Lives,” a co-production with Pathe (“Slumdog Millionaire”), will unspool in January. Pic stars Luke Evans (“Immortals”) and WWE’s Brodus Clay.
The reboot of the “Leprechaun” franchise, “Leprechaun: Origins,” bows in March, as a co-production with Lionsgate and is set to star WWE’s Hornswoggle.
Meanwhile, the direct-to-homevid actioner “The Marine: Homefront,” will star Randy Orton, when Fox distributes the pic in spring 2013.
The films represent WWE Studio’s move back into the horror, crime, sci-fi, action and thriller genres after focusing more on family and drama fare under the previous studio head, Mike Pavone.
The switch back was prompted by “fan feedback,” said WWE Studios chief Michael Luisi, at the summit. With WWE’s TV shows sticking to its PG rating, the films will enable the company to offer PG-13 and R-rated programming. Move is also seen as a way to up the profile and interest in its homevid releases, especially with new audiences, to increase sales. “For every WWE fan watching these movies, four non-WWE fans also watch,” WWE said.
Luisi reiterated that all films WWE produces moving forward will be co-financed and co-produced with other partners, or picked up from film festivals, rather than solely self-financing a slate as it had done in the past. It still has plans to release six to eight projects a year, with most expected to be based on pre-branded franchises and sequels.
WWE stars will also continue to have supporting roles in the films where they fit in and not be forced to carry the entire pic, limiting WWE’s potential audience, as a result, Luisi said.
It acquired “The Day” as its first festival pick up last year at Toronto and also sought out films with a presence at Sundance, Cannes and AFM for the first time in 2011.
The projects will also be promoted heavily across WWE’s various platforms, including its weekly TV shows, which are viewed by 15 million people in the U.S., websites that boast 3.5 million uniques, readers of its magazine and millions of followers on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Open Road teamed up with WWE to promote “The Grey” across those channels.