Reports are circling all over the place this afternoon that New Line Cinema, on the eve of release of the Will Ferrell comedy Semi-Pro, is folding like a high school gymnasium chair and is to be absorbed by Warner Brothers. This comes after a long string of failures (namely The Golden Compass) since it released The Lord of the Rings trilogy a few years back. There have also been all kinds of legal troubles over LOTR, including a recent suit by the Tolkein estate.
The following letter has been circulating the web, explaining the company’s demise:
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
UPDATE: Variety is now confirming the news.
From the looks of it, it appears that Time Warner (New Line’s Parent Co.) was not happy with the way things were being run under Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. Therefore, they have decided to “bring in the Bobs” (yes, that is an Office Space reference). For the folks at New Line, they may see some changes here in the next few days as WB decides how it wants to “reduce costs” and “streamline operations”. I would expect to see some layoffs though as WB cleans up operations. We wish all of our friends in the New Line organization the best.
We’ll keep you posted if and when more details become available.