Schwartz, New Line part ways

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Russell Schwartz is exiting his post after 6 1/2 years as domestic theatrical marketing president at New Line Cinema.

Rumors of Schwartz leaving the company surfaced this year, and Schwartz confirmed Monday that he and New Line executives Bob Shaye, Michael Lynne and Rolf Mittweg have been discussing the move for months.

"It's a new school year in September, a new energy, and it just felt like the right thing to do," Schwartz said. He added: "I really wanted to make sure that I stayed through 'Hairspray' and 'Rush Hour 3,' both of which are very personal projects to me. ... I took a really personal interest in 'Hairspray' from Day 1. Not that every other movie isn't dear to me, but this was a huge project, and it was in many ways as unique as selling the early 'Lord of the Rings.' "

"Rush Hour 3" opens Friday, and Schwartz began his career at New Line with "Rush Hour 2," so the timing provided a bookend of sorts.

"Russell has been a friend and colleague at New Line during stints over 30 years," New Line co-chairman and co-CEO Shaye said. "He is a superb marketing executive, and I sincerely regret our parting. He will continue to succeed."

Schwartz worked on the fantasy trilogy "The Lord of the Rings," such comedies as "Elf" and "Wedding Crashers," installments of such popular franchises as "Austin Powers" and "Blade" as well as the prestige films "About Schmidt" and "A History of Violence." Under his watch, the studio became an awards contender and swept the Oscars in 2004 with 11 wins for "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."

He was awarded the Ad Age Marketer of the Year twice, for "Return of the King" and "Wedding Crashers," and received the Yahoo ShoWest Award for most innovative campaign as well as numerous Golden Trailer and Key Art awards.

Since the glory of "Return of the King," however, the studio has had mixed success. Last year was a rough one for New Line at the boxoffice, with its highest-grossing movie, "Final Destination 3," taking in just $54.1 million. "The Nativity Story" didn't catch on, and the buzzworthy flicks "Snakes on a Plane" and "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny" floundered.

"We've been through good and rough times together, and it's all ending on a cordial note," Schwartz said.

Before joining New Line in 2001, Schwartz was president of USA Films, where he oversaw the production, marketing and distribution of such films as "Traffic," "Being John Malkovich" and "Topsy Turvy." Before that, he was president of Gramercy Pictures, where he oversaw campaigns for such fare as "Dead Man Walking," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Fargo" and "The Usual Suspects." He also had a stint at Miramax.

Schwartz will remain at New Line until the end of the month and plans to remain in the film business.

The company is in the process of filling his position.
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