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WWE Films slams box office
Releasing two triumphant motion pictures, plus greenlighting several more for production, added up to a banner box-office year for WWE Films. As for the so-called critics who believed the 2002 launch of the Los Angeles-based film division was a "reel" mistake, they had no choice but to recognize what World Wrestling Entertainment does better than any other organization on the planet: entertain.
The division's first foray into the cinematic realm—See No Evil, starring WWE Superstar Kane and distributed by Lionsgate—proved itself a monster hit with more than a half-million moviegoers attending its May 19 debut. In fact, See No Evil garnered the third-highest revenue average of any movie that weekend, behind only The Da Vinci Code and Over the Hedge. And neither one of those hyped studio blockbusters dared to hook up against the Big Red Monster again when his sophisticated slasher—boasting additional, never-before-seen gore and more—bowed on DVD November 28.
Last October, 20th Century Fox released WWE Films' second feature, The Marine, starring John Cena as a discharged Marine out to save his wife from a murderous gang of kidnappers. Although the Chain Gang Soldier generated mixed fan reaction at WWE live events throughout 2006, his performance in the high-octane actioner drew positive reviews, very respectable box-office numbers, and much attention from other studios looking for their next big action hero.
As The Marine prepares to report for DVD duty on January 30, WWE Films is putting the final touches on The Condemned, an action-thriller starring Stone Cold Steve Austin, for a Spring 2007 release. The film is the first of Austin's three-picture deal with the company, and it's already being touted as a stunning departure from what the always-above-average WWE fan might expect.
Vince McMahon, CEO and Chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, summed it up best for the audience attending an early May "screamiere" of See No Evil at the Century Theatre in Anaheim, Calif.: "We tell stories for a living. We are a global marketing juggernaut, and our stars are recognized in over 100 countries. Why limit our Superstars to just performing in the ring? Why not put them on the big screen as well? Our stars are far more recognized than the normal Hollywood actors, and far more talented. In the WWE, our talent does it all."
They certainly do, Mr. McMahon—which is why WWE.com nominates their Superstar power, plus WWE Films' championship year, as the No. 2 story for 2006.