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  Sep 27, 2000



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

'The Rock' gets $5.5M for debut starring role
WWF star the Rock will earn the highest salary ever paid to an actor in a debut starring role.

The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), a well-known character in the World Wrestling Federation, has signed a $5.5 million deal with Universal to star in "The Scorpion King," Variety reports.

The PG-13 film is scheduled to begin filming in March, after the Rock has finished the WWF's annual "Wrestlemania" event.

Jonathan Hales, who worked with George Lucas on the "Star Wars: Episode II" script, is writing "The Scorpion King" while the wrestler's boss, WWF owner Vince McMahon, will act as executive producer on the project. The WWF will also earn a production credit on the film.

The movie is being described as a "The Mummy 2" spin-off, (the Rock also has a small role in that film) and takes place years before "The Mummy 2" in ancient Egypt. "The Scorpion King" follows the life of a peasant (the Rock) whose village is destroyed by an army. The peasant then decides to seek revenge for his home by teaming up with a group of outlaws.

"The Mummy 2," in which the Rock appears as The Scorpion King, is scheduled to be released on May 11, 2001 and "The Scorpion King" is expected to be in theatres in Christmas 2001 or summer 2002.

"When we watched the Rock in dailies of 'The Mummy 2,' his charisma jumped out at us and we created a story that has a pre-history context, adventure and humour," said Kevin Misher, Universal Pictures president. "This is not a premise that's reliant on his wrestling abilities. It's a terrific template for the birth of an action hero."

In addition to earning the highest salary ever paid to an actor in his first starring role, the wrestler's deal was made on a "pay or play" basis which means that even if the film falls through, he'll still be paid.

The film studio may not mind shelling out such a large pay cheque, seeing that Johnson's Rock persona is one of the most popular characters in the wrestling world.

The Rock's first major film role and the WWF's production credit is also attractive to the WWF.

"The production of television films and theatrical features is part of the total game plan of this media company, but we want to walk before we run,'' said Linda McMahon, WWF CEO and wife of Vince McMahon. "This is an excellent way for us to break in and for the Rock to establish his star power."

The WWF also plans to be heavily involved in the promotional and marketing aspects of "The Scorpion King".

-- JAM! Movies

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