It’s Friday night. Payday isn?t for another two weeks and your bank account is lurking perilously close to the red. You?ve certainly not got the funds to scrape together a few beers with your mates let alone entertain a night on the town. Instead, it’s a quiet night in with the missus. Between you, you realise you can afford a trip to Blockbuster, after all, it is the store quiet Friday nights were invented for.
You enter and are immediately greeted by the familiar carpet and candy smell wafting through your nostrils. Special deals on popcorn and ice cream catch your attention, as does the ?Action? aisle. The perfect remedy for a quiet night in, you both nod in agreement. You venture down the aisle, debating whether you?re in an Arnie, Sly or Bruce mood. Terminator or Rambo? Predator or Die Hard? Hmmmm, seen ?em all before. But what’s this? You know the guy on the front of the box but you can?t think from where. He doesn?t seem to have any previous motion picture experience, nor has he been in any of your favourite sitcoms or HBO dramas.
Then it dawns on you?..
IT?S TED DIBIASE FROM MONDAY NIGHT RAW!!!
Wha?! The last time you saw this guy he was stooging for Randy Orton. Now he’s the hero in a motion picture? But hang on a sec, he’s not alone. Is that multiple time WWE Champion John Cena you see adorning the boxes of The Marine and 12 Rounds? And is that rather satanic looking behemoth in See No Evil in fact The Big Red Machine, Kane?
It’s no secret that wrestling and Hollywood have historically gone hand in hand. How could they not? They?re both sleazy industries which revolve around people playing characters. So it’s certainly no surprise that over the past three years the WWE have opted out of potentially losing their biggest stars to the likes of Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox and have instead thrust silver screen stardom into the laps of their superstars themselves.
Ok, so neither See No Evil, The Condemned or either of the Cena films exactly blew critics and fans away. No box office records were smashed and Sundance was not once waiting with baited breath to see what the Doctor of Thuganomics had up his acting sleeves next. However, what WWE studios did do was tap into perhaps the most profitable niche market Hollywood has produced. The ?mindless, generic action movie rental market?.
Action movies don?t have to be about deep, philosophical plots which challenge the fabric of society. They?re about Communists, Nazis and generally any sinister looking person with a funny accent attempting to take over the world or go to war with America, and there can only be one guy who can stop them. With the aid of an amount of explosives, the cost of which could wipe out third world debt, being used in order to stop these evil bastards. You don?t need a Brando or Day Lewis to be the leading man. You need a knucklehead with a great physique and a penchant for fucking shit up. Now where can you find guys like that by the barrel load?
You guessed it. On the roster of any reputable wrestling promotion on the planet. Vince Mcmahon has essentially loaded his company with guys who can make him a few extra million dollars on the side by running around topless firing a mini gun at terrorists for two hours. And what more could you want from a rental film?
People don?t rent movies they want to think about. They go out of their way to see films like that. You invest the time in a psychological thriller. You don?t with an action film. You rent a film because there’s nothing else to do and nothing on TV. You throw on your comfy pants and pick up a pizza on the way home and you slob out. You slob out with a Die Hard or a Running Man or Aliens. You do not slob out with Amores Perros or The Motorcycle Diaries (both phenomenal films by the way).
Hence why The Marine 2 starring Ted Dibiase never made the journey to the big screen. The figures have shown that the public aren?t willing to make the trip to the cinema and spend hard earned cash on a film they?ve basically seen a million times before. However, they have been willing to spend a couple of dollars, pounds and pesos on the same film from their nearest video store because it’s easier and there’s less commitment involved.
The film can be enjoyed at the pace of the viewer, rather than what the cinema dictates. Toilet breaks and nap pauses aren?t frowned upon and you?ve also not paid over the odds to watch a wrestler with little actual acting experience pursue the guy from Queer As Folk round New Orleans. But instead you can rack the movie up as a guilty pleasure and maybe shell out a couple of extra notes for it and add it to your full time collection.
So this would explain why these mind numbing action films which have included such acting luminaries as Vinnie Jones, perform so well in the small screen market. The WWE have essentially made themselves a very profitable, straight to DVD film studio. Budgets are kept relatively small and Vinnie Mac isn?t having to throw tens of millions at the Matt Damons and Christian Bales of the acting world.
Safe in this knowledge, Mr.Mcmahon must be breathing a huge sigh of relief. His current top guy, John Cena, has just as good a look and physique as a certain Dwayne Johnson, has a mass appeal to women and children and is hardly short on charisma either. Essentially he’s got all the raw materials to follow in The Rock’s Hollywood footsteps. However, with WWE studios proving successful, he can have Hollywood brought to his door for him and can shoot the films around his WWE schedule. Not a bad deal for all concerned.
So with WWE Films becoming as regular a fixture on the wrestling calendar as WrestleMania, perhaps it’s time to start wondering what roles would be perfect for the current roster. In fact, it?ll be time to start wondering about that exactly a week from today when I bring you the second part of this column where I explore film roles for the Superstars of today. Hell, if HHH can be considered for Thor then there’s no reason Rey Mysterio couldn?t have been Spiderman or The Big Show couldn?t have been John Coffey.
Until then, send some suggestions and feedback my way at email@example.com.