– WWE Studios President Michael Luisi recently spoke with CraveOnline about WWE’s film division. Here are some highlights:
Crave Online: My favorite WWE Film by far is That’s What I Am. Are you looking at those kinds of movies to keep making with WWE?
Michael Luisi: No, we’ve actually got a very different business model than that particular movie. I think it’s a wonderful film, I agree with you, but the type of movies that we’re making now are more in the genres of action, thriller, crime dramas. We’ve got a movie coming out in March, Dead Man Down with Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Terrence Howard that one of our guys named Wade Barrett is in. We’ve got a movie coming out in March as well called The Call with Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin and Michael Imperioli. We’ve got one of our superstars in it named David Otunga. So what we’re really looking to do is have a portfolio of films where we use our talent in a more strategic way that’s more organic to the movie. The movie still comes first and the movie will appeal to all audiences, whether or not they’re a WWE fan and even more so if they are.
You do also have a few franchises to keep going: The Marine, Behind Enemy Lines and 12 Rounds.
That’s right. Another big component of our strategy going forward is the extension of not only those franchises, but looking to participate in franchises with third parties that are not necessarily ours. We’ve got Marine 3: Homefront that’s coming out March 5 through Fox Home Entertainment. Mike “The Miz” is the lead in that one. 12 Rounds: Reloaded with Randy Orton comes out in June through Fox. We are doing a reboot of the Leprechaun franchise with Lionsgate. We are doing one of my favorite projects, although I’m really excited about everything we’re doing, but we are doing a feature length direct to home animated Scooby-Doo with Warner Brothers Home Entertainment where Scooby and the gang go to Wrestelmania and with the help of your favorite superstars they solve a mystery at Wrestlemania.
There’s a long history of Scooby-Doo. Do you inherit some animation with that and add some animation of WWE likenesses?
So it’ll be animated versions of our superstars. They’ve all voiced their own characters. We had fun recording sessions with everyone from Vince McMahon to John Cena to The Miz doing that one as well. Then the Scooby voices are voiced by the voice actors from Scooby, and there’s a tradition in Scooby of bringing in other iconic characters and personalities to the Scooby-Doo mysteries, so it was fertile ground and we’re just really excited about it. We think that’s going to be something that all of our fans can really enjoy, as well as all the fans of Scooby.
How did the Leprechaun franchise end up with WWE?
Well, it’s controlled by Lionsgate and all of the movies that we’re doing now we do with co-producing, co-financing partners. I come out of 12 years at Miramax so I have a lot of relationships from the Miramax days and when I went out and pitched our new business model to the people I knew at Lionsgate, they said, “Hey, you know what would be kind of fun? Finding something to do with your guys with one of your superstars that revolves around one of our existing franchises.” And I said, “I’ve got the project for you: Leprechaun, Hornswaggle.” Our talent Hornswaggle who will play the Leprechaun in the reboot of the franchise.
Would it take elements from any of the existing Leprechauns?
No, it is a true reboot of the franchise.
Will the tone be less cheesy and campy than the originals?
The tone is going to be a little darker, a little more traditional horror than the Warwick Davis ones that people remember, trying to find a way to please fans of that genre but at the same time this is really being played for scares.
The Rock became such a big superstar, do you have any projects with him or is his movie career totally separate now?
No, he participated in Wrestlemania last year and he’s been involved with WWE events since then and I think there’s nothing that would please us or our fans more than if we could find a way to do a movie project with him. So “to be continued” on that front.