Warner Bros. Pictures Absorbs New Line

New Line Cinema is officially being absorbed into Time Warner, a move that has long been expected and many say is overdue. The company will now serve as a genre arm of Warner Bros. Pictures (much like Screen Gems at Sony) with a focus on horror, comedy and urban features.

In a move designed mostly to cut ballooning overhead costs, its expected that many of the 600 staffers working for the studio in its LA and NYC branches will be let go – amongst them the studio’s creator Bob Shaye and topper Michael Lynne. Production President Toby Emmerich and Distribution Head Rolf Mittweg will stay on but will now serve under Alan Horn and Barry Meyer at Warners.

New Line will continue to have development, marketing and some distribution operations but those will be severely limited. The move also means that Warner’s specialty film divisions Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures will also undergo some major restructuring.

New Line will also stop its longstanding practice of selling off international rights to finance films – a move that came significantly after “The Golden Compass” underperformed domestically but grossed big overseas. The project’s failure was the last in a long line of problems that have plagued the company since the success of the ‘Rings’ trilogy. The move is not expected to affect the production of both “The Hobbit” films which will both got out under the label. The projects are targeting a Christmas 2011 and 2012 release.

In its time New Line has handled some of the more famous film franchises of the last few decades, most notably “The Lord of the Rings”. They’ve also released the “Austin Powers,” “Rush Hour,” “Blade,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Final Destination” and “Friday the 13th” film series as well as notable one-off pics like “Se7en,” “Boogie Nights,” “Wedding Crashers,” “American History X,” “Magnolia,” “A History of Violence,” “The Notebook,” “Snakes on a Plane,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Dumb and Dumber”” and “The Mask”.

Their last official film as a full company is Will Ferrell comedy “Semi-Pro” opening today, other upcoming Summer releases of theirs including the “Sex and the City” movie, the “Harold and Kumar” sequel, and “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D” will be handled by the new division.