EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios and Lionsgate have renewed their partnership with a six-picture deal to produce a new sextet of action pics, starting with Vendetta from twin-sister directing duo Jen and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker In A Trunk). The Soska Twins previously combined on horror pic American Mary and directed See No Evil 2 starring WWE’s Kane for WWE Studios and Lionsgate. Vendetta, written by Justin Shady, tracks a hard-nosed detective who deliberately commits a crime to get sent to prison, where he seeks vengeance on the crook serving a life sentence for murdering the detective’s wife. The WWE/Lionsgate “Action six-pack” will serve as a platform for WWE Superstar wrestling personalities transitioning into acting while enlisting emerging filmmaking talent behind the camera.
WWE Studios & Lionsgate Pact On Action Six-Pack, Tap Soska Twins To Direct WWE’s Big Show In ‘Vendetta’
WWE Studios and Anchor Bay Films have set Road To Paloma for a release in L.A. on July 11, before coming out on-demand and on DVD July 15. The film marks the directing debut of Jason Momoa, who starred in the first season of HBO’s Game Of Thrones and played the slave-turned-king in Conan The Barbarian. He stars as Wolf, a Native American on the run after avenging his mother’s murder. As he flees across the desolate American West on his motorcycle, he’ll discover that justice has a cost – Wolf’s search for redemption will reveal secrets and take him on a journey where the roads have some very unexpected turns. His wife, Lisa Bonet, also stars in a cast that also includes Wes Studi. Momoa wrote it with Robert Homer Mollohan and Jonathan Hirschbein, and Momoa co-produced with Brian Andrew Mendoza. I met Momoa at a dinner during the Sundance Film Festival held by WWE Studios’ Michael Luisi and found him to be engaging and quite serious about his directing ambitions. I was prepped for this after interviewing the Game Of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and after asking them who did they miss most of all the cast members they killed off, both said in unison, “Boy, do we miss Momoa.” He lives in Hawaii and planned to tap that lineage for a historical-based film that took place there, and the idea was …
WWE Studios has teamed with Relativity and Blumhouse Productions on the Mike Flanagan-directed Intrepid Pictures horror film Oculus, which was acquired at Toronto last fall. The film stars Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff. WWE Studios will lend its hand in promoting the film which was produced by Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans, who co-financed with MICA Entertainment. Pic will be released theatrically on April 11. The screenplay is by Flanagan & Jeff Howard based on the short film Oculus: The Man With The Plan, written by Flanagan & Jeff Seidman.
AnnaSophia Robb Joins ‘Conspiracy On Jekyll Island’; Mark Henry Joins Blumhouse Thriller ‘Incarnate’
The Carrie Diaries star AnnaSophia Robb has been cast opposite Minnie Driver and Frank Grillo in Conspiracy on Jekyll Island, playing the duo’s cancer-stricken daughter. The political thriller is being directed by Aram Rappaport from a script he developed with Hilary Shor (Children Of Men, The Paperboy). John Leguizamo, Maggie Q, Dianna Agron and Ed Westwick also star; filming is underway in Chicago. Robb is repped by CAA and Untitled.
Pro wrestler Mark Henry has pinned a role in the micro-budget thriller Incarnate from Blumhouse Productions. The pic directed by Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) follows an exorcist (Aaron Eckhart) who taps into the subconscious of a possessed 9-year-old boy (David Mazouz). Dark Tide scribe Ronnie Christensen penned the screenplay and Universal will distribute stateside. Blumhouse is partnering on Incarnate with WWE Studios, which will provide a multi-platform push for the film. Jason Blum will produce for Blumhouse, which is co-financing the project with IM Global. WWE Studios’ Michael Luisi will exec produce with Couper Samuelson, Michael Seitzman, Trevor Engelson, Stuart Ford, and Charles Layton. Blumhouse International is selling foreign rights. WWE Studios’ Bradley Buchanan negotiated the deal.
WWE Studios and Film Roman will co-finance and co-produce up to 13 three-minute webisodes of the new animated series entitled Camp WWE. Mike Benson, whose credits include Entourage and The Bernie Mac Show, will script them. The comedy is adult-themed, like Film Roman’s The Simpsons and King Of The Hill and covers the formative years of WWE stars, whose misbehavior prompts their parents to send them off to Camp WWE to be turned into model citizens by feared counselor Vince McMahon. That seems to be grounds for comedy, right? Actually, the grapplers are pretty calm offstage. Once at Newsday, I had the pleasure of having a late night dinner at the Carnegie Deli with Abdullah The Butcher, Ivan Putski and several others after their match. Despite that you could see the lumps and bumps and the spots where they routinely cut their scalps to bleed and make the pretend violence look more believable, these guys were total amiable gentlemen. And boy, could they put away the food.
“Film Roman has been involved with some of the most well-known and humorous animated series,” said Michael Luisi, President WWE Studios. “They are the perfect partners for WWE Studios to capture our superstars in a truly unique and fun way.” UTA, Inphenate and Hirsh Wallerstein rep Benson.
The horror sequel directed by twin helmers Jen and Sylvia Soska has added two scream queens to its cast. Frequent final girl Danielle Harris (Hatchet II & III, and the Halloween franchise) and Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, Freddy Vs. Jason) will star in the chiller opposite WWE wrestler-turned-thesp Kane and Michael Eklund. Isabelle previously starred for the Soskas in their sophomore feature American Mary. See No Evil 2 picks up after the events of 2006′s See No Evil with psycho killer Jacob Goodnight (Kane) rising from the dead in the city morgue to prey on unsuspecting medical students. Lionsgate and WWE Films partnered on the first film which grossed $18M in theaters worldwide and cleaned up on home video. Lionsgate will handle worldwide distribution while WWE markets the pic through its multimedia network. Harris is repped by Sager Management. Isabelle is repped by Characters Talent Agency.
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios and Anchor Bay Films has acquired distribution rights in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia/New Zealand to Road To Paloma, the directorial debut of Jason Momoa. Momoa played the title role in Conan The Barbarian, and was last seen playing Khal Drogo in HBO’s Game Of Thrones. Road To Paloma will be released in the U.S. later this year. It was financed and produced by Boss-Media’s Eric Gores and Frank Mancuso Jr., who are exec producers. Pic is produced by Momoa and Brian Andrew Mendoza’s Pride of Gypsies with Jamey Pryde serving as executive producer. Robert Homer Mollohan co-wrote the film with Jonathan Hirschbein and Momoa.
In Road To Paloma, Momoa stars as Robert Wolf, a Native American, who is being hotly pursued by the FBI for taking the law into his own hands after thugs rape and kill his mother on their reservation. Wolf crosses paths with Cash (Mollohan), a down and out musician, and an unlikely bond is formed as they motorcycle across the vast highways of the American West in search of redemption.
Momoa is currently starring in The Red Road, a scripted series for The Sundance Channel. He seems like a pretty decent guy; when I interviewed Game Of Thrones exec producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, they said that while they have become accustomed to routinely killing their cast, the guy that was hardest was Drogo, because …
Warner Bros and WWE Studios are tag-teaming to co-produce a Flintstones animated movie to be released in early 2015. Here, fixtures of the ’60s Hanna-Barbera cartoon including Fred and Barney will be joined by WWE staples including Vince McMagma (voiced by Vince McMahon) and such WWE superstars and divas including John Cenastone (John Cena) and CM Punkrock (CM Punk). They will take part in a prehistoric WWE main event.
Considering the cartoon’s love for all things named for all things geological, it seems a glaring absence not to have Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson here, particularly since he occasionally gets in the ring. But maybe that’s too obvious, or too expensive. After all Johnson has been killing it this summer in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Pain & Gain and Fast & Furious 6, and this one doesn’t look like it’s going to hit theaters.
WWE Studios has appointed former Paramount Pictures and Miramax film executive Julie Tustin as VP Marketing. She will oversee all aspects of marketing, publicity and brand development for the studio and work out of parent company WWE’s Connecticut headquarters. Tustin most recently was SVP Special Marketing Projects at Paramount, and before that led NY-based publicity teams for studio specialty labels Fox Searchlight and Paramount Vantage. She began her career with Miramax Films.
The Ryuhei Kitamura-directed thriller stars Luke Evans, Adelaide Clemens, Lee Tergesen, and WWE’s Brodus Clay and centers on a ruthless criminal gang that takes a young couple hostage and goes to ground in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. When the girl is killed, the tables are turned, and the gang finds itself outsmarted by an urbane and seasoned killer who wants them all dead. Anchor Bay picked up No One Lives at last year’s AFM from Pathe, which produced with WWE Studios. David Lawrence Cohen wrote the script. It will open in select cities including NY, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, Detroit, Houston and Baltimore.
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios, producer Edward R. Pressman and Jason Blum’s Blum-Hanson-Allen Films are getting into the comedy game. The trio is developing Cruisin’ For A Brusin’, an action comedy to be written and directed by Adam Bhala Lough. It focuses on two rule-breaking ex-cops who get back together to take revenge on the crooks and corrupt senator who murdered their mentor. “As we continue to seek out key creative and strategic partnerships to broaden our release slate, the opportunity for WWE Studios to work with producers like Ed Pressman and Jason Blum, and their talented executive teams, was a natural fit for us,” WWE Studios president Michael Luisi said. Pressman, Scott Hanson and Luisi will serve as producers on Cruisin For A Bruisin’. Jason Blum, Jon Allen, and Pressman Films’ COO Jon Katz will executive producers.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC Family and WWE Studios are getting in the ring together for the first time with the TV movie Christmas Bounty. The two are developing the action comedy for a 2013 broadcast during the network’s 25 Days Of Christmas programming block. WWE wrestling champion The Miz will be one of the stars. Andrew Black, Vivian Lee, James Berg and Stan Zimmerman wrote the script. Set to start production early next year, the film follows an elementary school teacher who is forced to return to her former life as a bounty hunter to save the family business. The female lead has not been cast. The Miz, whose real name is Michael Mizanin, has been in front of the camera a lot this year: In April, he took over the lead role in WWE Studios’ Marine 3: Homeland from Randy Orton, and also starred in Queens Of The Ring. He started out a contestant on MTV’s The Real World: Back To New York in 2001 and appeared in other reality shows before landing a WWE contract.
Warner Bros and WWE Studios will coproduce a Scooby-Doo animated feature that will involve a mystery at WrestleMania. This seems a natural, since most Scooby-Doo episodes involved one of the gang pulling off the mask of a criminal who opines he would have gotten away with it if not for those pesky kids. Well, wrestlers are big on wearing masks, and the WWE has lined up its grapplers Triple H, John Cena, Kane, The Miz, Brodus Clay, Santino Marella, Sin Cara, AJ, and WWE chairman/CEO Vince McMahon to lend their voices and appear in animated form in the film. Warner Bros Home Entertainment will distribute the film through Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and digital download, and the WWE will use its considerable resources to promote the effort, said WWE Studios President Michael Luisi.
Randy Orton is getting back in the action for 12 Rounds: Reloaded. The three time WWE World Heavyweight Champ will star in the second installment of the action franchise for WWE Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. In Reloaded, Orton plays an Emergency Medical Technician who has to find out why a vigilante is threatening him and his family. Directed by Roel Reine and written by David Benullo, 12 Rounds: Reloaded starts shooting in Vancouver on September 26. The movie is set to be released in the spring of 2013. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will handle worldwide distribution on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and digital download, WWE will market the film through its various platforms. Reloaded is the second in WWE Studios’ three-picture deal with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. The first 12 Rounds was released in 2009, starring wrestler John Cena and directed by Renny Harlin. Among other films WWE Studios also has coming out are Dead Man Down, starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard, and The Hive, with Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. Dead Man Down was co-financed with IM Global and will be distributed by FilmDistrict. The Hive was co-produced by Troika Pictures. Randy Orton is repped by Andy Corren Management.
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios and Troika Pictures are teaming to co-produce and co-finance The Hive, starring Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. The thriller, to be directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transsiberian), was written by Rich D’Ovidio (Exit Wounds, Thir13en Ghosts) and based on a story by Rich D’Ovidio, Nicole D’Ovidio and Jon Bokencamp. In the film, an emergency call center operator (Berry) takes a call from a teenage girl (Breslin) who has been abducted and carried away in the trunk of a car. The kidnapping plays out in real time as Jordan and Casey work together to track down the killer. The Hive is being produced by Troika’s Michael Helfant, Robert Stein and Bradley Gallo, WWE Studios’ Michael Luisi and Jeff Graup. William Gallo, Philip M. Cohen and Chip Rosenbloom are executive producers. Principal photography is scheduled to begin July 6 in and around Los Angeles.
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios has acquired Interrogation, a suspense thriller spec by Adam Rodin. The plot: a bomb will go off in Las Vegas on one of the busiest betting days. A brilliant interrogator is called in to question the prime suspect as time runs out, and it becomes clear there’s an even bigger plan in place for both of them. “It’s a white-knuckle ride, filled with unexpected twists and turns,” said WWE Studios president Michael Luisi. The Bohrman Agency repped Rodin in the deal. WWE’s upcoming films include Dead Man Down, which FilmDistrict will release with Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace starring for director Niels Arden Oplev, and the Toronto pickup The Day, which Anchor Bay will distribute.
Principal photography for Dead Man Down, a romantic thriller directed by Niels Arden Oplev, is slated to begin Monday in Philadelphia. The movie stars Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper. Oplev directed Rapace in an earlier revenge-themed movie, the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Farrell plays a crime lord’s right-hand man who is seduced by Rapace’s character in a scheme to exact retribution. Financing, sales and distribution company IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford and WWE Studios President Michael Luisi also announced that WWE Studios has joined IM Global as co-financier on the project. Neal Moritz’s Original Film and screenwriter J.H. Wyman of Frequency Films are producing the $30 million movie.
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have partnered on three films that will be DVD premiere titles. First up is The Marine: Homefront, a new installment of the franchise that started with the 2006 Fox theatrical release that starred WWE wrestler John Cena. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will handle worldwide distribution for the three pictures on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and digital download. WWE will use its telecasts and marketing clout to promote each film.
“WWE Studios will continue to expand its film offerings to appeal to a wide range of movie fans in 2012 and 2013,” said WWE Studios President, Michael Luisi. “We look forward to building upon our relationship with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to present movies that bring action, adventure and humor to audiences all over the globe.”
“WWE is a tremendous organization supported by a world class marketing machine,” said Mike Dunn, President, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “We are proud to continue our partnership with Michael and his team.”
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios has acquired Bermuda, a found-footage horror spec script by Bobby Lee Darby and Nathan Brookes. Set in the Bermuda Triangle, the story focuses on a documentary film crew that goes missing. The only trace is the discovery of their film footage chronicling their final desperate days. The scribes previously wrote Slaughter, a homage to Japanese cult horror films that won a Horror Screenplay Competition prize at Slamdance. Original Artists repped the scribes along with Hung Entertainment. ”The Bermuda Triangle has always been an intriguing and mysterious setting,” said WWE Studios president Michael Luisi. “Bobby and Nathan’s script puts a very unique spin on the found footage genre.”