WWE CEO Vince McMahon spoke with shareholders yesterday about the poor performances of WWE Studios last year, which was given the brunt of the blame for WWE's annual performance "not looking good" on paper. He discussed how the company plans to correct the problem and make money with the films division.
He said the TV Rights Revenue and movie division were the key areas to look at. Studios head Michael Luisi then attempted to sell the shareholders on why movies are still a worthwhile investment for the company, evne with numerous losses in 2011. The company previously invested $150 million in their last two films, which did not work out.
Luisi said the new plan is to focus on new content, a distribution strategy and a harder push to sell movies to not only WWE's audience, but non-fans. Part of the strategy will be to co-produce and co-finance PG-13 and R-rated movies in the action, crime, horror, sci-fi and thriller genres. WWE will still look at movies that match up with their current TV-PG product.
WWE CFO George Barrios said the company plans to invest $15-20 million in 4-8 projects this year. McMahon said that he thinks that WWE can do both quality and quantity in their films. He said they can't do one big-budget film but they can distribute the risk with production/financing partners and create more upside movies. For movies not featuring WWE stars, they will either produce a movie with a partner after WWE acquires it or help share the revenue and cost of an already completed movie.
Luisi said the goal is to take a non-WWE film, brand it as a WWE Studios movie and then introduce it to both WWE fans and non-fans, with the idea that even if it doesn't star a WWE wrestler, it will be pushed on WWE programming and other means of promoting products.
Here's the updated schedule announced yesterday:
-Aug. 17: The Day (part of 50/50 co-financing with Anchor Bay).
-2013: No One Lives (50/50 co-finance with Pathe).
-Dead Man Down began principal photography this week, a 50/50 co-financing split with IM Global.
-In Production: The next installment of The Marine begins filming in June.
-The Leprechaun franchise will be rebooted with Hornswoggle in the lead role as part of a 50/50 co-financing deal with Lionsgate. It will be the first of two movies partnering with Lionsgate, with an announcement on the second to come later.