Stone Cold Steve Austin was the Hulk Hogan for the late '90s and early millennium. Eventually his popularity yielded itself to the Rock, but that's OK; the guy made his mark. Anyone who remembers his famous feud with the evil Mr. McMahon cannot help but look back upon the program with delightful nostalgia -- after all, I never laughed so hard as when those two got in the ring to perform shenanigans that had all the comedic underpinnings of a Monkees romp (make no mistake, that's a compliment).
Well, Stone Cold's heat may have peaked a long time ago, but one thing's for certain: He'll never go away. He's got show business in his blood, and he aims to entertain with everything he's got. I read a press release from World Wrestling Entertainment
Anyone who's read some of my past articles on WWE will find that I have been bullish on this film division (as an example, see my Take about WWE and BSkyB); in fact, some might feel that I have been acting like a broken record on the subject (or, to update the metaphor, a skipping CD). Yet I would proffer that this is an aspect of the company that has been undervalued, and I actually have to wonder whether it will remain so until the first few movies have been released.
To be certain, the current challenges in revenue growth that the WWE has been facing is a significant issue -- I'm not about to sugarcoat that, and I tip my hat to the bears who want to make a case of it. This is where the film division comes in; there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that a low-budget sleeper hit will be lurking within the slate. I can't say that the first couple features -- one will showcase John Cena, with the other starring Glen Jacobs, the man who plays the Kane character -- will be hits right out of the gate, but when those hits come, watch out, and take a look at the effect on the stock.
Hit features are what propel Pixar
So, as we get closer to the inaugural WWE movie, I'd suggest investors take a close look at this element of the company's business model. There's certainly a lot of risk here, since audiences are fickle, but when one considers how much synergistic cross-promotion will occur between WWE Films and the wrestling TV shows/pay-per-views, a compelling picture is drawn. Just don't make every film a vehicle for a wrestler, Vince -- remember, that will get old quick.
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned.