Time Warner announced last week that New Line Cinema would be folded into Warner Bros., and that the studio’s founder and CEO, Bob Shaye, as well as longtime fellow executive Michael Lynne, would be leaving the company. Among the many movies produced by the 40-year-old studio were Hairspray, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Lord of the Rings.
What the commentators said
This is sad news for directors like John Waters, said Chris Kaltenbach in the Baltimore Sun. “Back when the only place to see Waters’ films was in subterranean art houses and other hangouts similarly off the beaten path, and when you didn’t admit to seeing the films in respectable company, New Line signed on with this guy.” They also banked “small films” by directors “such as Alexander Payne (About Schmidt), Spike Lee (Bamboozled), Martha Coolidge (Rambling Rose), and Mike Figgis (One Night Stand).
Well, New Line “went highbrow and low,” said A.O. Scott in The New York Times, “sometimes playing for the niches and sometimes for the mass audience.” And although “it’s not for me to argue the merits of the decision to snuff out New Line’s independence,” I will say that “New Line was a link between the smooth conglomerated present and a gamier, more entrepreneurial past.”
“So New Line is dead,” said the blog Film Experience. “Long live Warner Bros.” You have to stay “zen” about the “cannibalism of corporate Hollywood” and remember that “Hollywood is immortal. In some way or another all of its severed heads re-grow.” Look what happened to USA Films: When it turned into Focus Features, it became “even better”—it’s actually the best production company around right now.