Bauer lays off 8 employees

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Beleaguered production and distribution company Bauer Martinez Entertainment has laid off more than a quarter of its employees after its most recent films "Harsh Times" and "National Lampoon's Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj" bombed at the boxoffice.

The Century City-based company let go eight of its 30 staffers across all divisions Dec. 4, the Monday following "Van Wilder's" $2.3 million bow.

Company spokesman Dennis Higgins, no senior executives were let go, but employees in international sales, marketing, operations, home video and an executive assistant were laid off.

"We're going to focus more on productions next year, hoping to produce two to three movies," Higgins said. "There were no cuts in the production department."

Bauer Martinez made a splash at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival when it made an aggressive bid for the David Ayers film "Harsh Times," paying $4 million for North American rights and select international territories. But the Christian Bale starrer, which was released Nov. 10, has grossed only $3.3 million domestically.

The studio will complete its three-picture distribution deal with MGM with next year's "I Could Never Be Your Woman," starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The romantic comedy from director Amy Heckerling is set to bow in March. Following "Woman," Bauer Martinez has Richard Gere's "The Flock" and the Jeff Bridges starrer "The Amateurs," which it plans to self-distribute, though Higgins said an outside distribution company may be brought in to work with Bauer.

The company intends to begin production on two films in 2007: "Ex Games," to be directed by Brian Levant ("Are We There Yet?") and another Kal Penn starrer "Under New Management," to be helmed by "Van Wilder 2" director Mort Nathan.
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