Thursday, February 14, 2008

No Love for New Line

2008 may be the last year that Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes gets a valentine from Bob Shaye.

In response to the recent suicidal tendencies of TW’s stock price, Bewkes has started eyeing cost-cutting options, and the first name on his kill list appears to be Shaye’s New Line Cinema label. Founded by Shaye and partner Michael Lynne, New Line was for a long time regarded by horror fans as “the house that Freddy built” for the phenomenal financial haul of A Nightmare on Elm Street, which first established New Line as an economically viable independent studio. Time Warner acquired the company when it bought up Ted Turner’s media assets, and has since run the studio separately from its Warner Bros. division (per Shaye’s wishes) with Lynne and Shaye as its co-chairs.

While he hasn’t always made the best choices as studio head (in reality, Bewkes’ decision to cut New Line may depend on whether or not Shaye gives him back that $8.00 he spent on a ticket to Man’s Best Friend), Shaye has never tried to hide or back away from his involvement in horror. In the dark ages of the early ‘90s, New Line was virtually the only studio regularly putting horror movies into theaters. Were it not for Shaye’s unpopular decision to back movies like In the Mouth of Madness, future installments of those “Scariest Movie Moments” specials that run on Bravo around Halloween would be forced to refer to the period as “the Vidmark Era.”

If TW does cut New Line (and Shaye and Lynne), it will most likely fold all of its assets into the Warner Bros. division. Shaye and Lynne would loose valuable fallback franchises like the Nightmare, Friday the 13th, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, though considering how those are faring these days, they might be better off rotting in the WB vault.

Of course, the break could provide the opportunity for Shaye and Lynne to revisit their Reagan-hippy roots and start up their own new company like the Weinsteins did, but then again, we all know how well that turned out.