It may surprise some to discover that a vast majority of WWE superstars also dabble in acting to some degree. Certain stars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have made the transition seamlessly, relying on good looks as well as excellent acting chops to land plenty of acting gigs. In fact, The Rock has been so successful that wrestling has become somewhat secondary to his Hollywood aspirations. The same can be said for a few of the luckier superstars turned actors as well, as John Cena and Randy Orton are both names you will likely see quite often the next time you’re browsing through Netflix.
The WWE has gone so far as to make its own studio, as the offshoot program has churned out around twenty feature length films at the time this article is being written. Naturally, some have gone on to receive good reviews while others have been absolute stinkers.
But rather than have you sift through all the WWE superstar titles to find the best ones, we’ve done all the work for you. Anyone interested in spending a few hours watching WWE superstars do something besides beat up on each other has come to the right place. What follows are the 10 best performing low budget movies featuring WWE wrestlers.
10. Legendary (2010)
We’ll start this list off with a bit of a curveball. Can you guess what makes this movie so different from what follows on the rest of this list? Hint: there are no guns or explosions. That’s right, we’ve stumbled upon a rare drama movie with a starring WWE actor. Let’s just say there have been more successful marriages, that’s for sure.
John Cena stars in Legendary alongside talented actors like Danny Glover and Patricia Clarkson, and it’s pretty clear he should stick to his action niche. While the sports drama might not be the absolute greatest movie in the world, it still performed at the box office. It made a marginally successful gross total earning of $200,000 when it was all said and done.
9. That’s What I Am (2011)
This is a coming-of-age story set back in 1965, and it actually turns out fairly well. The reason it’s a bit low on this list is due to the fact that the WWE contributions almost hinder the performance in certain aspects. Superstar Randy Orton plays a minor role in the movie, and it’s his acting that many people criticize after they leave a showing.
Released back in 2011, the movie earned a good rating on imdb.com with a 7.1. Along with Randy Orton, the film stars Ed Harris, Molly Parker and Chase Ellison. They perform wonderfully, and the overall movie is quite entertaining. But once again, if you’re looking for the cream of the WWE acting crop, you’d best steer clear of this particular movie.
8. The Marine 2 (2009)
When you hear the phrase “straight to DVD” it usually doesn’t bode well for a movie’s quality. The Marine 2 seemingly bucks the trend however, as long as you aren’t expecting anything more than an action movie. While this flick won’t be winning any Academy Awards, it did go on to receive a slightly positive rating from imdb.com and continues to receive user ratings even though it was released back in 2009.
Starring Ted DiBiase Jr., The Marine 2 is a tried and true action movie in which a marine must take on a group of local terrorists after the hotel he is staying at comes under attack. In the process, he must save his wife from the clutches of the bad guys, a trope that we wager we’ll see pop up a few more times on this very list.
7. The Condemned (2007)
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin stars in this action genre film released in 2007. The plot centers around Austin, who plays Jack Conrad. Conrad is a convict sentenced to the death penalty, but is later spared by a wealthy businessman and television producer so that he can be flown to an island to fight nine other convicts to the death for a television show. It’s an oddly Hunger Games-like plot, though this movie surely fared much poorer by comparison.
The flick has a 6.1 rating on imdb.com, and was distributed by Lionsgate Entertainment. Its highest ranking was number 9 on the box office charts in the United States. While certainly not the most impressive results in terms of rankings, Austin’s efforts still managed to pull in a grand total of over $7 million after The Condemned debuted.
6. Dead Man Down (2013)
Dead Man Down stars the likes of Colin Farrell and Terrance Howard. WWE superstar Wade Barrett also plays a role. This movie was released in early 2013, and went on to receive decent reviews from critics as well as a good turn out during its opening weekend. It peaked at number four on the box office charts.
In total the movie earned over $10 million. Its plot centers on Farrell, who is a hired gun of sorts. Essentially, his neighbor blackmails him into killing someone who has harmed her in her past, and if he refuses she will show everyone a recording she managed to take of Farrell committing a previous murder. While the WWE doesn’t have the most prolific role in this film, its contributions shouldn’t go ignored.
5. Walking Tall (2004)
The Rock makes an appearance on this list as the star of Walking Tall. The Pg-13 action flick was picked up and distributed by MGM in 2004. Alongside The Rock, the film also stars Johnny Knoxville and made over $15 million on its opening weekend.
This movie is a remake of a 1973 movie of the same name. It’s based on the true story of Sheriff Buford Pusser. The Rock stars as a former United States soldier who finds his hometown has gone to the dumps after he was deployed. He comes back and uncovers crime at every corner, and is thus forced to clean out the streets. In total, the film grossed over $46 million, yet only comes in at number five on the list because it was probably afforded the largest budget out of any other movie on the list.
4. 12 Rounds (2009)
John Cena stars in this successful low budget action movie that was released back in 2009. It proved to be the perfect merge between an action centric script and a muscled superstar. Directed by the same man who made Die Hard 2, this movie sticks to typical action movie tropes, but is certainly worth a watch.
In total, the movie grossed a little over $12 million during its run time. Its PG-13 rating appealed to a teenaged target audience, and the positive turnout was good enough to spawn future sequels. These would fail to live up to the hype of the original, though, and would star other superstars like Randy Orton.
3. See No Evil (2006)
See No Evil is yet another film pushed out by WWE Studios. This time WWE superstar Kane takes center stage, playing the psychopathic Jacob Goodnight in this horror slasher. It was released back in 2006 and was actually picked up by Lions Gate Entertainment. The title was a work in progress, having gone from The Goodnight Man to Goodnight to simply See No Evil.
In terms of critical response, the movie’s results were rather negative. In fact, Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an 8% as critics found the movie relied too heavily on clichés and provided no real scares. Still, that didn’t stop the movie from becoming a success. Total gross revenue comes in at over $15 million, proving that audiences will still pay to see movies no matter what critics have to say.
2. The Marine (2006)
John Cena makes yet another appearance on the list in, you guessed it, another action movie. This patriotic film experienced quite the success, peaking at number six on the U.S. box office charts back in October 2006. The movie was marketed to maximize income, running all the way through the much-coveted December and January months that movies seem to flourish during.
Once again sticking to tried and true techniques, this film won’t blow anyone’s mind due to its writing. It’s an action movie, so that’s not to be expected. Instead we watch Cena battle a lot of bad guys in order to save his kidnapped wife. It’s an exciting watch, and one that grossed over $18 million in revenue.
1. The Call (2013)
This low budget thriller was released in March of 2013 and is one movie that the WWE Studios surely hangs its figurative cap on. The movie was widely marketed and hit theaters with a bit of a buzz. The hype surrounding it only increased throughout the opening weekend, with Halle Berry’s performance hailed as spectacular. The movie climbed all the way to number two on the U.S. box office charts, grossing an astonishing $51 million over its running time.
Also starring superstar David Otunga, the movie depicts a 911 operator who is taken on a suspenseful and dramatic ride after receiving a distress call from a teenaged girl who has been abducted. Berry must then confront past demons in order to save this girl’s life.