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No Parkersburg premiere for ‘Wrestlers vs. Zombies’

By Staff | Feb 3, 2014

PARKERSBURG – Plans to premiere “Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies” here are down for the count.

The Facebook page for the film, which pits wrestlers like “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan against hordes of the undead and filmed mostly in Parkersburg, recently began promoting a premiere event on March 28 at the Smoot Theatre, including a link where tickets could be purchased. Piper, Duggan, Matt Hardy, Kurt Angle, Shane Douglas and other stars of the film are scheduled to attend.

But now they’ll be attending a premiere in Charleston, after Smoot director Felice Jorgeson said nothing was ever formally scheduled at the downtown Parkersburg theater and she had no plans to screen the movie.

“We will not, because we don’t believe it’s family entertainment,” Jorgeson said. “I can’t imagine what this is like. It sure isn’t ‘The Sound of Music.'”

Contacted Monday afternoon, “Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies” writer/director Cody Knotts said the arrangements with the Smoot had been made months ago. But he later told The Parkersburg News and Sentinel that plans had changed.

“We’re going to have to move it to a venue in Charleston,” he said. “We are unable to use the Smoot. That’s their choice, not ours.”

The venue has yet to be announced, but Knotts said the premiere will still happen on March 28.

“That can’t change because we go to New Orleans the next weekend for WrestleMania,” he said.

Jorgeson said she’d recently gotten emails about the premiere from people concerned about the content of the movie, which was described by Knotts prior to filming as being “about big, powerful men and hot babes killing zombies with good, old American violence.”

Jorgeson said she was contacted about a screening event a few months ago, but there was no follow-up.

“There’s nothing in writing,” she said.

Knotts said a verbal agreement had been made.

An early screening in Uniontown, Pa., drew 800 people, and a venue that seats 700 to 800 is needed for the premiere, Knotts said. With the Smoot out of the running, the filmmakers had to look elsewhere, and Charleston allows them to keep the premiere in West Virginia.

“There’s just no venue (in Parkersburg) big enough to hold what we need to do,” Knotts said. “We want to be able to show the film in West Virginia before we show the film anywhere else.”

One reason the filmmakers wanted to hold the premiere in Parkersburg was to show appreciation to residents and state and local officials for their support during filming, Knotts said.

“We’re bringing everybody in because we wanted to thank the town,” he said. “The people were amazing.”

More than 500 people from the Parkersburg and Marietta area were involved in the film in some way, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. Many served as extras, and some had speaking roles in the movie.

Knotts said he frequently traveled to Charleston while in Parkersburg so he hopes local people will still be able to make the trip. And the moviemakers may still do something else to show their appreciation to the city.