WWE Studios: What’s the deal?
By Harry Oddie
WWE has been a household name for over 30 years now, and whilst its history dates back even further, it is certainly a powerhouse in the wrestling industry. During the ‘boom period’ in the late 1990s to early 2000s, the brand was everywhere.
It launched the career of The Rock, 2016’s “Hottest Man of the Year” and one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood right now. It revolutionised gaming with games such as No Mercy and the SmackDown! Games series. It grew so popular, that they even operated their own nightclub in New York City, known as just ‘The World’. Despite only lasting around four years, being opened in 1999 to close by 2003, it still pulled in massive revenue for the company and only further demonstrated WWE’s brand appeal. In 2002, WWE wanted a stake in another business, and decided to make the next big step. Dominate the film industry.
WWE Studios, called a “natural extension of entertainment business” at the time of it’s opening, it first helped produce films with other companies, such as Universal and MGM. The most notable titles include ‘The Scorpion King (2002)’ and ‘Walking Tall (2004)’, both starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Seeing the success of these films, WWE Studios began producing films with other, more current active roster members in mind. That’s why in 2006, ‘The Marine’ was released, starring John Cena. In the same year, audiences were given ‘See No Evil (2006)’, starring Kane.
‘See No Evil’ was the first film to be incorporated into actual storylines. Kane rivaled the Big Show at the time, and he was haunted by the date, May 19th, which was the film’s theatrical release date. The film earned the company $18.6 million at the box office, with the picture only costing $8 million to produce.
It is low-budget film titles that WWE Studios specialises in. Films like ‘Countdown (2016)’ and ‘Eliminators (2016)’ are generally generic action flicks, with very little thought or variation. They release crossover films with Warner Bros and Sony Pictures with brands such as ‘Scooby-Doo’ and ‘Surf’s Up’, with a new Jetsons crossover on its way. These are all direct-to-DVD titles, and generally aren’t considered ‘canon’ by wrestling fans, as one film literally takes place during a WWE Live Event, with Rusev fighting Dolph Zigg… I mean Ray Thompson (see, Countdown).
This year comes WWE’s most shocking film release to date, “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone”. This film saw a theatrical release, the first film in a long time to reach the big screen. This time, it’s a Christian motion picture that has Shawn Michaels and more surprisingly Brett Dalton of ‘Agents of Shield’ fame. This is after WWE Studios acquired worldwide rights to Blumhouse Tilt, a Catholic organisation dedicated to film making. This is beyond bizarre, and signals a shift in direction for the production house. It was a Box Office flop, with it only making about $100,000, with a chance of improving with DVD sales.
WWE Studios pulls in revenue, but not like it used to. There is no other use for them, but with the new Catholic stamp being applied to the subsidiary, it strays from what WWE is to the core. We’re still waiting for their Magnum Opus, and I can’t confirm if that will happen anytime soon, we can always wait. It doesn’t appear they will be going away anytime soon, with seven movies planned for 2017, with four films currently planned for a ‘TBC’ release date.
Let us know what you think, have you ever enjoyed a WWE Studio release?
You can find Harry Oddie on Twitter @HarryOddie