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Lionsgate pacts with WWE on film deal

First pic will be a reboot of horror fave 'Leprechaun'

Lionsgate is pacting with WWE Studios on a two-film deal.

Studio will team with the Connecticut-based entertainment company on a reboot of “Leprechaun,” the 1993 horror pic that was one of the first starring roles for Jennifer Aniston and an indie hit. Pic was produced by now defunct studio Trimark, which was eventually absorbed by Lionsgate in 2000.

Both Lionsgate and WWE Studios will share producing costs as well as team on marketing strategies. Lionsgate will handle distribution.

Pic is set for a 2013 release, though there is currently no writer, director or cast attached. The other film in the deal has yet to be determined.

WWE, the home of a handful of wrestling programs, is readying to launch a new TV network and restructuring its film division. WWE Chairman-CEO Vince McMahon wants to give WWE Studios some time to grow under new head Michael Luisi, who was tapped to oversee the division in September.

Rather than fully develop and produce its own slate of films, Luisi has been busy picking up films from festivals such as Sundance and Toronto, co-producing projects with other shingles, and locking down deals with Fox to grow its direct-to-homevideo franchises like “The Marine” “to improve the profitability of our movie business,” McMahon said.

Upcoming films for WWE Studios include “No One Lives,” starring Luke Evans and WWE personality Brodus Clay, “Barricade,” starring Eric McCormack; and cult hit “The Day” starring “Lost” vet Dominic Monaghan, Shawn Ashmore, and Ashley Bell, which was purchased at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.

As for its deal with Lionsgate, Luisi said: “We have been looking for ways to continue our relationship with Lionsgate and we saw ‘Leprechaun’ as the perfect opportunity to take a well-known franchise and put a modern-day spin on it. This is a property that we believe our audience will respond to and we continue to look for ways to surprise and engage them.”

Lionsgate and WWE have teamed before on pics “See No Evil” and “The Condemned.”

WWE has a huge male fan base it can tap into, with wrestling programs strewn across the dial, as well as a profitable pay-per-view business with “Wrestlemania.”

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