The independent entity known as New Line Cinema since the late ’60s is, in a sense, no more. The curtain came down today on the company that Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne built and ran for four decades when Time Warner announced that it will become a unit of Warners, maintaining separate development, production, marketing, distribution and business affairs operations.
Okay, but hasn’t New Line been operating as an independent unit of WB ever since its owner, Turner Broadcasting System, merged with Time Warner in 1996? What’s going to be different in a specific, physical managerial way?
Shaye and Lynne are out, but will staffers continue to operate out of the New Line offices at 116 No. Robertson? Or will the whole operation move over to the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank? Are there going to be massive staff whackings? Whomever steps into the top position at the “new” New Line is going to hire his/her own people in upper management, and subsequent staff changes will ripple down through. Works this way every time.
Claudia Eller‘s L.A. Times story about the announcement (posted at 2:14 pm) said “it is unclear how many people will lose their jobs as a result of the consolidation…New Line Cinema employs more than 600 people in Los Angeles and New York.”
A guy who knows things and knows people says this: (1) The only truly important property that New Line has that Warner Bros. truly values is The Hobbit, a two-picture ranchise that Guillermo del Toro will direct — everything else is secondary; (2) Warner Bros. is going to look to cut down on overhead as much as possible, which probably means eventually closing the 116 No. Robertson office and sending a pared-down New Line staff over to offices on the Warner Bros. lot; (3) Warner Bros. honcho Jeff Robinov is going to decide what’s really valuable about New Line (its employees and properties) and toss the rest; (4) “People don’t go to the movies to see New Line product…they go to movies because of the marketing or the story or the stars…the company name means nothing.”
I called every New Line publicist I know and no one (not even their assistants) would pick up. They must be having a big company-wide meeting or something. The official announcement broke about 90 minutes ago.