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WWE NEWS: Huge update on movie business, plus Video Game future & other news from McMahon Conference Call

Feb 28, 2013 - 11:00:17 AM
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By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

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The following are non-WWE Network highlights from WWE's conference call with investors hosted by CEO Vince McMahon and CFO George Barrios on Thursday.

-- 2013 will be a make-or-break year for WWE Studios. Barrios noted in his opening remarks that they expect the revised Studios model will provide "significant returns" above the cost of producing the movies. But, if this year's slate of movie releases is not successful - however "successful" is defined - WWE will consider an exit strategy from the movie business.

During the Q&A session, WWE balked at offering their internal thresholds or metrics for domestic box office performance, specifically for their widespread theatrical releases "Dead Man Down" and "The Call" in the first quarter.

Barrios noted that the two movies are "very, very important" to gauge Studios's success or failure under the new model, which calls for partnering with other production and distribution companies to share the burden of cost. "We'll have a good idea of where we stand under the new model after these two releases," Barrios said.

-- In 2013, WWE plans to increase non-Network spending in the areas of writing staff, talent development, and building their brand through "innovative" social media marketing.

WWE management did not say, nor were they asked what the added cost for the writing staff is specifically related to, but the assumption is either Network-related or creating more TV/online programming. The latter would fulfill one of the items WWE identified in their "Business Plan" that calls for the possibility of licensing more programming to established TV channels. Or, online channels.

-- Management says they were "blown away" by what Take-Two proposed they could do with WWE's video game license, especially in the area of social and online gaming. Barrios said they were "behind the curve" working with THQ, but they believe they can generate more revenue working with Take-Two. Barrios said they have an "audience that wants to interact" and WWE will push for more social and mobile gaming options.

-- McMahon noted they are expecting some business challenges in the current First Quarter 2013. Specifically, lower home video sales, lower international revenue, and digital and staffing expenditures.


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