After 42 years of existence, New Line Cinema one of the top independent studios in the Hollywood movie industry are no more. They have been bought out by the big boys over at Warner Bros, and will in the future operate simply as a small subsidiary company (probably Indie genre specific) for WB, with Co-Chairmen and Co-CEO’s Bob Shaye and Michael Lynee no longer with the company.
Today’s news hardly comes a surprise and the Industry has expected this day to come for at least six weeks now, probably longer.
A disastrous 2007 saw a total mis-management of New Line’s “banker properties” leading to flop after flop with The Last Mimzy, Shoot ‘Em Up, Mr. Woodcock, Martian Child and Rendition all grossly under-performing (some with huge stars) but the real nail in the coffin would come when the festive fantasy movie The Golden Compass turned out into a financially disastrous venture. The fantasy movie was seen as the saving grace of the company, the movie that would keep it afloat and make 2007 simply a write off year but alas it wasn’t to be.
A $69 million domestic taking for a movie that cost AT LEAST $240 million to make and distribute was simply too much of a loss for them to survive. And before you say it, the $330 million worldwide taking don’t mean shit because they sold off the International rights as an initial part of funding the feature in the first place.
By the time the heavily promoted Eva Longoria flop Over Her Dead Body opened outside of the box office top ten on it’s debut weekend of release earlier this month, the writing was already well and truly on the wall. Another bad film pitch which turned into an awful feature film from what became a grossly mishandled company.
Nicknamed “The House that Freddy Built”, New Line Cinema operated as one of the big “second tier companies” behind the big boys Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox after famously stumbling across a famous horror character that would make the studio a household name, and often keep it afloat when other projects didn’t quite go to plan. Freddy Krueger, and his A Nightmare on Elm Street series would turnover millions and millions of dollars for the company with little hassle or fuss – in a similar vain to what the Saw movies do now for Liongstate, they were always seen as the studio’s “safe bet”.
It’s no wonder the company had already made plans to restart the franchise in a hope to resurrect the studio from the financial pit it had fallen into. What happens to that reboot now is anyone’s guess. I guess it’s up to whatever Warner Bros. want to do with it.
Same goes with Austin Powers, Blade, Friday the 13th, Rush Hour, Final Destination, Mortal Kombat, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Mask franchises which are all now part of Warner Bros. ownership, with at least two of the above series in question having movies in the early stages of development.
Of course the question now turns to the state of The Hobbit and the future of Middle-Earth (as if the film didn’t have enough trouble already!). It will now be up to Warner Bros. and their funding resources as to whether they want to go ahead with the film or not and of course they will have full control over the crew and talent working on the picture, and the whole general scope of things will have to be to their liking. Or it will be changed, at worse scrapped.
So we are left to wonder how a company which just over four years ago produced the multi-billion dollar Lord of the Rings franchise has ended up dead in the water, and just another small subsidiary to Warner Bros. Boy, I bet they could turn back the clock and forget all those early meetings they had with The Golden Compass… and just did everything in their power to get The Hobbit made sooner. Though the company has been a sinking ship since Gollum fell down the Crack of Mount Doom in all fairness… The Golden Compass was seen as a desperate attempt to revive it.
I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this one. The Hobbit movie really is cursed… or maybe this is the best thing that could have ever happened to it.
READ THE FULL NEW LINE CINEMA PRESS RELEASE AFTER THE JUMP…
February 28, 2008
To: New Line Colleagues
From: Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne
Subject: Our Company
This afternoon, Time Warner is announcing that New Line will become a unit of Warner Bros. This is, of course, a very difficult and emotional time for all of us who have worked at New Line. While there is not much we can say that can lessen the impact of this announcement, we did want you to know about the decision before you read about it in the press.
New Line will maintain its own identity and will continue to produce, market, and distribute movies. But New Line will now do so as part of Warner Bros. and will probably be a much smaller operation than in the past. Time Warner hopes that operating New Line as a unit of Warner Bros. will allow New Line to focus on the creative side of movie-making, while reducing costs and taking advantage of Warner Bros.’ distribution systems. The company will be holding group meeting with New Line employees tomorrow in Los Angeles and New York to discuss this announcement, and is committed to letting employees know as soon as possible about how this change affects them individually.
For our part, we will be stepping down as Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOS of New Line. This was a painful decision, because we love New Line and the people who work here have been like our second families. But we will be leaving the company with enormous pride in what all of us at New Line have accomplished together. From its humble beginnings 40 years ago, our studio has created some of the most popular and successful movies of all time. Those movies are a tribute to the amazing creative energy and entrepreneurial abilities of the talented people at New Line. They are a legacy that will endure forever.
Although we are stepping out of New Line, we intend to remain actively involved in the industry in an entrepreneurial capacity, and will keep you advised of developments.
We thank all of you who have worked so hard to make New Line such a success. We are very proud of every one of you.
Bob & Michael
source – coming soon