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New Line Cinema

New Line Cinema Productions Inc.
Subsidiary of Warner Bros.
Industry film production
home video
Video Game
Founded 1967 (1967)
Founder Robert Shaye
Headquarters 116 N Robertson Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Key people
Toby Emmerich
(President / COO)
Products Motion pictures
Owner Time Warner
Parent Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (Time Warner)

New Line Film Productions Inc., often simply referred to as New Line Cinema, is an American film studio founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye as a film distribution company, later becoming an independent film studio. It became a subsidiary first of Turner Broadcasting, then Time Warner in 1996, and was merged with larger sister studio Warner Bros. in 2008.[1]


  • History 1
    • Merger with Warner Bros. 1.1
    • Divisions of New Line Cinema 1.2
    • Accounting practices 1.3
  • Distribution 2
    • Home video distribution 2.1
  • In comparison with other independent motion picture studios 3
  • Highest-grossing films 4
  • Films 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


New Line Cinema was established in 1967 by the then 27-year-old Robert Shaye as a film distribution company, supplying foreign and art films for college campuses in the United States. Shaye operated New Line's offices out of his apartment at 14th Street and Second Avenue in New York City. One of the company's early successes was its distribution of the 1936 anti-cannabis propaganda film Reefer Madness, which became a cult hit on American college campuses in the early 1970s. New Line also released many classic foreign-language films, like Stay As You Are, Immoral Tales and Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (which became the first New Line film to win an Oscar).[2] The studio has also released many of the films of John Waters.

In 1976, New Line secured funding to produce its first full-length feature, Stunts, an action thriller about murders of a number of stuntmen in Hollywood. The film was directed by Mark Lester and released in 1977. Although not considered a critical success, the film performed well commercially on the international market and on television.[3]

New Line produced or co-produced three more films in 1981 and 1983: Alone in the Dark, a horror film about escapees from a lunatic asylum; Xtro, a science fiction fantasy; and Polyester, directed by John Waters. Polyester was one of the first films to introduce a novelty cinema experience, Odorama, where members of the audience were provided with a set of "scratch and sniff" cards, to be scratched and sniffed during appropriate times during the film, which provided an additional sensory connection to the viewed image.[3]

A Nightmare on Elm Street was produced and released by New Line in 1984. The franchise was New Line's first commercially successful series after a devastating financial slump, leading the company to be nicknamed "The House that Freddy Built". The film had a production cost of $1.8M and grossed over $25.5M at the US box office. It was the first film to feature actor Johnny Depp. A year later, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge was released. It grossed $3.3M in the first three days and over $30M at the domestic box office. Nightmare 3 was released in 1987. In its first weekend it grossed more than any previously released independent film and went on to make almost $45M at the US box office.[4]

In November 1990, New Line purchased a 52% stake in television producer RHI Entertainment, which would later be sold to Hallmark Cards. In May of the following year, New Line purchased the home video and foreign rights to 600 films held by Sultan Entertainment Holdings, aka Nelson Entertainment Group; the deal also included an 11-film distribution deal with Castle Rock Entertainment. On November 27, 1991, New Line purchased Sultan outright.[5][6]

On January 28, 1994, New Line Cinema was acquired by Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting System,[7] which then merged with Time Warner in 1996. While fellow Turner-owned studios Hanna-Barbera Productions and Castle Rock Entertainment eventually became units of Warner Bros., New Line was kept as its own entity until February 28, 2008, when Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes announced that New Line would shut down as a separately operated studio.

Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne said that they would step down with a letter to their employees. They promised, however, along with Time Warner and Jeffery Bewkes, that the company would continue to operate its financing, producing, marketing, and distributing operations of its own films with the New Line logo, but would do so now as a part of Warner Bros. and be a smaller studio, releasing a smaller number of films than in past years.[8]

As to the company's future, according to Alan Horn, the Warner Bros. president at the time of the consolidation: "There's no budget number required. They'll be doing about six per year, though the number may go from four to seven; it's not going to be 10." As to content, "New Line will not just be doing genre [...] There's no mandate to make a particular kind of movie."[9]

In 2007, New Line Cinema and Castle Rock Entertainment collaborated on Fracture, their first joint venture since the mid-1990s before both companies were bought by Turner.

In the coming years, New Line will release several films based on properties originated at WB. These include a remake of the 1958 musical film Looney Tunes character Speedy Gonzales,[11] and another film in the National Lampoon's Vacation series.[12]

Merger with Warner Bros.

New Line Cinema was merged with its parent company Warner Bros. in 2008.[13] The disappointment of The Golden Compass was largely blamed for the decision, in which New Line spent $180 million on the development of the film, yet only grossed $70 million in the US market.[14]

New Line moved from its long time headquarters from Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles in June 2014 to Warner Bros. lot Building 76, formerly used by Legendary Entertainment, a former WB film co-financier.[15]

The last movie released by New Line Cinema as a separate company was the Will Ferrell film Semi-Pro.

Divisions of New Line Cinema

New Line Cinema operated several divisions, including theatrical distribution, marketing, home video, and was a partner in a new distribution company called Picturehouse.

Specializing in independent film, Picturehouse was formed by Bob Berney (who left distributor Newmarket Films), New Line (which folded their division Fine Line into this), and HBO Films (a division of HBO and subsidiary of Time Warner), which was interested in getting into the theatrical movie business.

On May 8, 2008 it was announced that Picturehouse would shut down in the fall.[16] Berney later bought the Picturehouse trademarks from Warner Bros. and relaunched the company in 2013.[17]

Accounting practices

South Canterbury Finance invested $30 million in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, only to have New Line produce accounts showing that the movies did not make a profit, but made "horrendous losses". According to SCF CEO Allan Hubbard: "We found it surprising because it was one of the biggest box office success of all time."[18] (The three films rank 7th, 25th, and 33rd on the list of highest-grossing films.)

Fifteen actors are suing New Line Cinema claiming that they have never received their 5% of revenue from merchandise sold in relation to the movie, which contains their likeness.[19]

Peter Jackson's production company, Wingnut Films, questioned New Line Cinema's accounting methods, bringing in an outside auditor as allowed by the contract, and eventually sued New Line.[20] New Line executive Robert Shaye took great offense, declared that they would never work with Jackson again.[21]

Saul Zaentz also had an ongoing dispute with New Line Cinema over profits from The Lord of the Rings films. The dispute began shortly after the release of the films. In December 2007 Variety reported that Zaentz was also suing New Line Cinema, alleging that the studio has refused to make records available so that he can confirm his profit-participation statements are accurate.[22]



The United Kingdom

Australia & New Zealand

Home video distribution

In comparison with other independent motion picture studios

Unlike other independent studios such as Orion Pictures, Carolco Pictures, or Cannon Films, New Line Cinema grew and prospered to become one of Hollywood's major film studios, culminating in the hit The Lord of the Rings film trilogy that brought commercial success to the studio.

Prior to this, New Line was responsible for genre films and cult classics such as Dark City, the Jim Carrey vehicles The Mask and Dumb & Dumber, the Austin Powers film trilogy, the fantasy Pleasantville, the Final Destination series, the Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Friday films, the films of John Waters, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, the thriller Seven, the Paul Thomas Anderson films Boogie Nights and Magnolia, the highly successful movie adaptation of Mortal Kombat (as well as its sequel), the Rush Hour films, the Critters films and the Blade trilogy.

Highest-grossing films

Highest-grossing films
Rank Title Year Domestic gross Notes
1 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King* 2003 $377,845,905
2 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers* 2002 $342,551,365
3 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring* 2001 $315,544,750
4 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2012 $303,003,568 Distributed by Warner Bros.. Co-owned by Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.
5 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 2013 $258,366,855 Distributed by Warner Bros.. Co-owned by Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.
6 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2014 $253,161,689 Distributed by Warner Bros.. Co-owned by Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.
7 Rush Hour 2 2001 $226,164,286
8 Austin Powers in Goldmember 2002 $213,307,889
9 Wedding Crashers 2005 $209,255,921
10 Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me 1999 $206,040,086
11 Elf 2003 $173,398,518
12 Straight Outta Compton 2015 $161,058,685 Distributed by Universal Pictures.
13 San Andreas 2015 $155,190,832 Distributed by Warner Bros..
14 Sex and the City 2008 $152,647,258 Distributed by Warner Bros..
15 We're the Millers 2013 $150,394,119 Distributed by Warner Bros..
16 Rush Hour 1998 $141,186,864
17 Rush Hour 3 2007 $140,125,968
18 The Conjuring 2013 $137,400,141 Distributed by Warner Bros..
19 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 $135,265,915
20 Dumb and Dumber 1994 $127,175,374
21 Mr. Deeds 2002 $126,293,452 Distributed by Columbia Pictures.
22 The Mask 1994 $119,938,730
23 Hairspray 2007 $118,871,849
24 Horrible Bosses 2011 $117,538,559 Distributed by Warner Bros..
25 Valentine's Day 2010 $110,485,654 Distributed by Warner Bros..
  • Includes theatrical reissue(s).



  1. ^ Funding Universe
  2. ^ Collins, Keith (August 22, 2004). "A brief history".  
  3. ^ a b "New Line Cinema : About Us". Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  4. ^ "New Line Cinema : About Us". Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ "New Line to Join Ted Turner Empire Today : Film: With more money, the company is likely to add a few big movies to its annual production schedule". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  8. ^ Billington, Alex (February 28, 2008). "It's Official – New Line Cinema is Dead!". 
  9. ^ McNary, Dave (June 27, 2008). "New Line still has irons in fire".  
  10. ^ "Damn Yankees! (2010) Remake Coming". Playbill. Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  11. ^ "New Line making Speedy Gonzales film; George Lopez to voice character". 
  12. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (February 10, 2010). "New Line ready for another 'Vacation'; Studio updating franchise family film saga".  
  13. ^ "New Line merged with Warner Bros.". The Guardian (London). February 29, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Dial 'D' for disaster: The fall of New Line Cinema". The Independent (London). April 16, 2008. 
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (January 30, 2014). "New Line Leaving Longtime Los Angeles HQ, Moving to Burbank". Variety. Retrieved October 30, 2014. 
  16. ^ Hayes, Dade; McNary, Dave (May 8, 2008). "Picturehouse, WIP to close shop".  
  17. ^ Fleming, Mike (January 15, 2013). "The Berneys are Back with Picturehouse, and Now They've got Metallica". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  18. ^ Scherer, Karyn (December 13, 2010). "The Hollywood Shell Game".  
  19. ^ "15 actors sue New Line Cinema over 'Lord of the Rings' profits".  
  20. ^ "Director sues over Rings profits". BBC News. March 2, 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  21. ^ "New Line boss hits out at Peter Jackson".  
  22. ^ Shprintz, Janet (December 13, 2007). "Zaentz, New Line in court".  

External links

  • New Line Cinema at the Internet Movie Database
  • New Line 40th Anniversary interview with Michael Lynne and Robert Shaye on Charlie Rose
  • New Line Cinema - Special Projects
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