Wrestlers are larger-than-life figures, and the WWE always has been centered on outsized storylines.
So it’s only natural that Vince McMahon’s empire would take the next logical step and get into film. Now, a little less than five years after WWE Studios released its first movie, the schlocky Kane-starring horror flick “See No Evil,” the company has become a prolific releaser.
Its family-oriented action flick “The Chaperone” opens Friday, with a DVD release on March 8, and so far there are four other movies on the docket for release this year and next.
Though one might assume the WWE’s cinematic fare is but an extension of its wrestling brand, bringing the world of feuds and tag-team matches to the big screen, “Chaperone” star Paul “Triple H” Levesque said that’s not the case.
“What we do is tell stories, and then we have this marketing machine behind it. But the heart of it is just storytelling, and that’s really what making movies comes down to,” said the wrestler, who’s also an executive advisor at the company and McMahon’s son-in-law.
The studio has fast become an appealing destination for top-flight talent. Such respected actors as Danny Glover and Patricia Clarkson have appeared in earlier films, and the Ed Harris-starring “That’s What I Am” just premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Levesque attributes WWE Studios’ burgeoning popularity in part to its streamlined production process, taking such approaches as shooting all its movies in the New Orleans area to benefit from Louisiana’s optimal tax breaks and the utilization of the same production crew.
“We’re throwing the Hollywood template on its ear a little bit,” Levesque said. “Making these movies back to back, saving money on the cost of making them, shrinking the DVD window to allow us to only have to spend one sum on promotion and recoup faster — it’s a different way of doing things, but we think it will hopefully be a better way.”
Levesque acknowledges that WWE Studios — still a young brand — has a way to go before Hollywood’s bigwigs really start taking notice. But the company’s on the road to respectability, he says, and by selecting the right scripts and telling the best stories, it will stay on that path.
“We’re making our reputation with people one step at a time,” Levesque said. “But it’s getting there.”