There is still no official word on whether or not New Line Cinema will go ahead with the sequels to The Golden Compass, but based on recent reports, I’m thinking … not. More specifically, I’m thinking that there might not even be a New Line Cinema any more that can make that decision.
Yesterday, Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere passed on the news that, according to Colin Farrell, the release of the cop movie Pride and Glory has been delayed a full year because “New Line lost the bollocks on The Golden Compass…and they literally don’t have enough money to market things.”
And today, Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily reported that Time Warner, the company that has owned New Line since 1996, considers New Line to be “ripe for expense reductions” and is still planning on letting go of Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, the studio chiefs who founded New Line way back in 1967.
UPDATE: Variety magazine adds these details:
[Time Warner CEO Jeffrey] Bewkes said New Line will be the focus of budget cuts and layoffs. The company expects the move to save $50 million a year.
The specific microscope on New Line within the context of a $50 billion media conglom raised some eyebrows.
“There’s real value in New Line as an independent label and brand with its own slate of movies, and New Line’s had great success with certain genres of films that are not historically in the sweet spot of large studios,” Bewkes said. “But with the recent trend toward fewer movie releases across the industry and given the greater importance of overseas revenues, there’s the obvious question about whether it still makes sense for us to have two completely separate studio infrastructures and Warner and New Line.”
One New Liner said while “nobody is jumping up and down” in response to the news, the sense is that cuts could resemble those undertaken in 2000 when about one-quarter of the staff was let go. That pullback came amid the doldrums of “Town & Country” and “Little Nicky” and preceded the bullish run that kicked off in earnest with the first “Lord of the Rings” pic in 2001.
New Line toppers Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne have had talks with Bewkes in recent weeks as they reach the end of their contracts, and have met with deep-pocketed investors to explore their options should they want to leave the conglom. But Wednesday’s earnings call did nothing to support rumors of their setting up a new company, and even the folding in of certain New Line ops into Warners remains, for the moment at least, a theoretical scenario.
“The greater importance of overseas revenues.” Is it safe to assume that this is an indirect reference to the fact that New Line was unable to enjoy The Golden Compass‘s success overseas — the film flopped in North America — because they had pre-sold the foreign-distribution rights to other companies?