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WWE REACTION TO NO ONE LIVES, DEAD MAN DOWN ON DVD & MORE WWE STUDIOS NOTES

By Mike Johnson on 2013-05-17 09:30:02
WWE CFO George Barrios noted that the company was "happy with the performance" horror film "No One Lives", their latest film release, while discussing WWE Studios at the JP Morgan conference in Boston earlier this week.

In explaining why the company continues with the Studio, which has gone through several changes in leadership and strategy, Barrios commented, "We think it fits. As I mentioned in my opening, we've been successful, creating content and monetizing it on every platform. So we think we have the DNA to create content and monetize on that platform. We also think it brings the brand to people who are fans today. When I was watching The Call at my movie theater and the WWE logo comes up and you can hear people going, WWE, is that the wrestling and the movie comes on, can you put a price tag in that moment? No. Overtime, do we think if we are successful, does that broaden the brand? We think so. So that's why we are in it and we think we can make money."

Barrios, however, admitted that thus far, they haven't been successful financially with the Studio, noting, "No, we haven’t been successful doing that part. The first, if you look at our movie business, we spent about $100 million starting in 2006 through 2009, releasing seven movies and we did just better than break-even, so not good enough. We did like 3% IRR [Mike: Internal Rate of Return on the original investment]. We changed the model, hired someone from the outside to produce and run the business and we were going to self distribute because we thought we could keep a bigger share of the economic. We released nine movies in 2010 and ’11 that we will produce starting at ‘9 until the beginning of ’10 and those movies did not do well at all. They compressed earnings in 2011 because the impairments were close to $30 million. And in our size business, obviously that's a massive hit. Got a new team in place for the first time, at least since I've been there. We brought someone in with commercial experience in the movie industry, specifically Miramax, Michael Luisi. And he's been running the business of movies being released at this point starting late last year and we’ve released three so far this year, actually four."

Barrios noted that "Dead Man Down" was a disappointment for the company, noting that it "hasn't performed well." To be fair to WWE on that way, a lot of people in the entertainment industry expected the film to do better, given it was Danish director Niels Arden Oplev in his American feature debut and that he was reuniting with his "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" star Noomi Rapace. Dead Man Down will be released on DVD on 7/9.

Barrios was also touting "The Call" starring Halle Berry, which was far and away the highest profile and most successful WWE Studios release to date. That film, which may spark a sequel, will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 6/25.