Sunday, March 02, 2008

New Line (R.I.P.)

As you've heard by now New Line Cinema has been absorbed into Warner Bros. The gargantuan corporate beast still thrives and grows. It will eventually own your very soul. Reel Fanatic has written a fine if measured eulogy, praising them for bringing us several John Waters classics and the neo classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, damning them for Brett Ratner and other blights. New Line's death undoubtedly kills off any His Dark Materials: Golden Compass sequels but they didn't really go for it anyway so no big loss. I realize that my initial review was a thumbs up ... but like Sweeney Todd, which I liked much more, it faded rapidly, replaced as it should be with memories of the superior source material. I'm only human and sometimes --well, all the time actually (and I think this is a universal truth though many people refuse to acknowledge it) what I bring into the theater affects how I respond to the movie.

People will worry about the future of the troubled LotR prequel The Hobbit but if you ask me, we're better off without it ...though we won't be without it. Warner Bros won't be able to let it rest since Rings was a cash cow. Even if the property is entirely damaged it will one day walk the movie theaters like a miserable shuffling reanimated corpse. I say let it rest in peace with the Golden Compass sequels. It's sometimes best to quit while you're ahead. Every new morsel of info regarding the infinite lawsuits over Tolkien's material and Hollywood's profits or non-profits (hee, who are they trying to fool?) from the same... and every new idea -'let's make it two films since there's not enough material for one' (huh?) makes me say: no thank you. I'll always have 10+ hours of Frodo, Aragorn and Legolas and that's enough for me.

So New Line is dead. Long live Warner Bros. When it comes to the cannibalism of corporate Hollywood I stay very zen. Hollywood is immortal. In some way or another all of its severed heads regrow. I remember when Orion folded, I think around the time they won a Best Picture prize (for Silence of the Lambs), I was heartbroken. I had been conditioned to be excited when I saw their logo because they had delivered me many formative treasures. Other studios delivered goodies thereafter. All was well. I was a baby cinephile. I hadn't yet seen the way great studios (early Weinstein Miramax) can become embarrassments (Chocolat-pushing Weinstein Miramax) or even how they can be reborn and revitalized (the new Weinstein-free Miramax). Early this decade I became really fond of USA Films and then they were suddenly Focus Features (my current favorite) but they were even better. As long as there's a studio here or there and a mover and shaker behind the scenes that cares about quality, it's all good
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21 comments:

The Pagan Sphinx said...

I voted for the John Waters movies. I guess I'm never in step in with the biggest crowd...

Rob said...

Not to be a bitchy correcter, but Sony made "Punch-Drunk Love"... New Line bailed out after "Magnolia" lost them money.

NATHANIEL R said...

alas --i can't change the quiz now... but IMDB lists New Line as the production company

Catherine said...

I do love PT Anderson, but I had to follow my heart and pick the geeky choice. The LOTR trilogy was the first cinema experience to make a huge impact on me (save maybe The Lion King, when I was 4). I saw the Felloswhip 6 times in the cinema, cried every time. We used to re-enact the entire film in the playground (it was always hard to convince somebody to be the Ringwraith) and for years I always got excited when the New Line logo preceeded a film.

Trey said...

I also voted for John Waters. The world is a more interesting place with his movies floating around in it.

Anonymous said...

That was an easy vote for the "Lord of the Rings" films. Sad to see New Line go.

Brodie said...

Um, John Waters is the ONLY choice!

The Opinionated Australian said...

Paul Thomas Anderson for me. (Oh wait - PUNCHDRUNK LOVE wasn't them? Still gets my vote anyway!)

If Nathaniel had included it, I would have voted for Malick's THE NEW WORLD. If New Line only made that film, it was enough.

Brian said...

Ditto on the New World. One of the few masterpieces that can trump even Desperate Living and Polyester.

Kamikaze Camel said...

It is sad that "the studio that Freddy built" couldn't be, well, rebuilt after a seemingly neverending series of mishaps save a Hairspray or Final Destination hit. They could even get that new Will Ferrell movie right if box office is anything to go by. And I'm sure we all remember that disastrous Little Nicky episode from 2000. And if you don't then you're a luckier soul than I.

I voted for the Nightmare on Elm Street option because that was the first thing I remember seeing the new line logo on (strange, but true). Plus they allowed Wes Craven to make New Nightmare and as Tim at Antagony and Ecstasy once said New Nightmare is the 8 1/2 of horror movies. It even features Bob Shaye!

But... that beautiful logo. And the music that goes with it sometimes at the start of a movie. THAT is that I'll miss. I love that logo.

Nat, was Fine Line an offshoot of New Line? Because Fine Line produced/distributed some great films, namely Dancer in the Dark.

NATHANIEL R said...

from my understanding newline was the home of fineline too but fineline has been gone since 2004 (their last two produced films as far as I can tell maria full of grace and birth... what a way to go, right?)

Kamikaze Camel said...

dayum. I'd forgotten they were responsible for Birth.

has a nice retrospective of the posters from New Line films.

It'd be cool if the Academy put "New Line Cinema" in next year's In Memorium bit, huh?

Kamikaze Camel said...

Hmmm. Okay, so that didn't quite work how I thought it would.

jessica said...

Sorry, I couldn't resist voting for BAPS. My real vote would probably be LotR.

Anthony said...

Alo voted for "Nightmare on Elm Street" -- one of the first movies I ever rented on VHS. The New Line logo was synonymous with Freddy Krueger.

Tim said...

Though I certainly loved the three good "Nightmares" (and "Freddy vs. Jason", though it sucks in all possible ways, probably needed to happen), I had to vote for Waters, one of the truly unique minds in art.

As for the death of New Line, well... their best days were long gone, and we have Focus and Magnolia and even Lionsgate once or twice a year to pick up those nice little unmarketable gems. I'm much sadder that Bob Shaye is out on the street: a good man who clearly loved movies, even if some of the movies he loved were sort of awful.

Derek said...

Hard choice between PTA and LOTR, but ultimately I had to go with my favorite film of the decade (LOTR).

Sad to see New Line go.

steve said...

Tough.

I went with LOTR, because that's certainly their greatest gift to the MOVIE!going public (if only all blockbusters were also legitimate instant classics).

Paul Thomas Anderson is their greatest gift to cinema.

John Waters, though I don't think he's ever made a "great" film, has made plenty of terrific and interesting films. The artform needs more unique voices like his.

steve said...

Oooh, I didn't realize they did The New World. God, what a movie. In a perfect world (mine), it would have scooped Oscars for Director, Actress, Cinematography, and Makeup, plus a smorgasbord of other nominations.

Peter said...

I was surprised New Line lasted as long as it did. After they started producing more expensive films to compete with the majors, I figured it was a matter of a few years once Turner bought them out. I remember what happened to American International after they started trying to make more mainstream films. Fine Line was the subsidiary of New Line which originally was in the business of foreign films like Chabrol's Nada. What I am interested in knowing is the fate of the art house subsidiary that took it's place, Picturehouse.

NATHANIEL R said...

good point Peter. Nobody is covering what's going on with Picturehouse.