Look, I don’t mind you coming here, and wasting all my time. Cause when you’re standing oh so near, I kinda lose my mind, yeah.
IS THIS THE END OF JOHNNY NEW LINE?
Yes and no. Don’t you worry about The Hobbit, that shit is going to happen (and don’t you worry about a thing, mama). There have been two theories about what will happen with New Line, one is that someone in-house will take over management of the company and turn it into their playground (as floated by Nikki Finke), the other is becoming a boutique company. That will effectively end Picturehouse (which was already in the shitters with HBO) simply because it was an adjunct, and Warners already has the unprofitable – but useful – WIP.
I think Jeremy’s on the money when he suggests it will eventually become Warner Brother’s Rouge Pictures. It’s still under the same umbrella in every way, shape, and form, Now Warner Brothers can release their genre titles without the stigma of being an official release, and use New Line for their embarrassing off-season titles that recoup via DVD or cheap production budgets. If that is the case, most of the New Liners will be homeless shortly, and that’s the tragedy apparent. But, really, New Line only had three get out of jail free-franchises: Rush Hour, Austin Powers and Lord of the Rings. This summer – after too great a delay - Rush Hour was used and failed. Mike Myers can get that 20+ Million payday any time he wants for AP4, so it’ll be interesting to see if he has any loyalty whatsoever, but he didn’t answer those calls for another entry pre-now, so it’s likely he’s done with it until he really really needs the money. Robert Shaye and Co. always had The Hobbit trump card, but when they tried putting out the fire with gasoline in their contractual disputes with Peter Jackson over his payday, and effectively shit that trump(y) away. Never mind the abject disaster of their last two years, both from a film and marketing perspective. They basically had (at best) ancillary victories, or – in the case of Titanic-esque The Golden Compass - a possibly profitable film that took such a drubbing and cost so much that a parent company had nothing else to do but put the smack-down.
But, friends, Romans, countrymen, I come here not to bury New Line, but to praise them. For the most part, they were very supportive of John Waters, their genre-work was mostly interesting, they put out Dog Park (a guilty pleasure), and Jeremy listed ten films that everyone should see (to which I’d also throw A History of Violence and Crash into that mix, mostly because I have a weakness for a good stump-hump).
But, let me get to the most interesting element of this story: The timing. This weekend NL puts out Semi-Pro out, and tracking suggests that it will be #1, and will likely be profitable (even if Will Ferrell got a $20 Mil and back-end payday). After a two-year, nearly relentless losing streak it seems all the more ignominious to be canned before an actual triumph. Even if that opening weekend is the highlight of the run, and the film barely makes it to $60 plus. Then again, Thursdays are categorically a good day for letting people go.
The question is, especially for us Angelinos, what will happen to the support staff? Though they are surely getting their resumes ready, the industry itself has been continually reducing on the exhibition end, and with fewer studios, fewer jobs, etc. it’s a good skill-set to be marketing. My thoughts are with the people who decidedly given me opportunities to meet famous people, travel, and have generally been some of the most awesome of the studio peeps. New Line has always been the rowdy outsider, and that ethos was (at least) never forgotten by a support staff, who – across the board – were always up for a good time in the best possible way. And – to which there is no doubt – New Line got DVD better than most of the majors. Much has been lost.
EXILE ON PREDICTION STREET
Saw you’re stretched out, on Route ten-oh-nine, and New Line gets the weak weekend right before 10,000 B.C. opens and dies next weekend (“What, it’s no 300?”). With Will Ferrell goodwill, you get to a respectable opening. The bad news is that Ferrell just lost a bit of his indie cred. I could not seem to get a line on you, The Other Boleyn Girl and Penelope with your 1,200 or less openings, my sweet honey love. All 1200 means is that it’s not as embarrassing as a 800 screen opening, but it ain’t much better. How will last weekend’s Vantage Point hold? Well, if it doesn’t drop 60% that’s something, right?
So get ready, get ready, Kahn, here it comes:
1. Semi-Pro - $27.4 Million
2. Vantage Point - $12.1 Million
3. The Spiderwick Chronicles - $8.6 Million
4. Jumper - $6.9 Million
5. Brianna Evigan Should Step Up 2 Jeremy Smith and Meet Him for Coffee - 6.1 Million
And Sunday I’ll pout about how I’d never join a club that would have me for a member.