New Line loss a foreign black hole


What will they do in the wake of New Line's disappearance?

The absorption of the high-powered label into the Warner Bros. fold is triggering a radical shake-up among foreign distributors who had output deals with the mini-major.

Down the road, Warners International will take over distribution of major New Line titles, but before that, existing arrangements — whether film-by-film pacts or overall output deals — have to run their course.

"We all want to know what's going to happen," muttered an insider at Italian distributor Medusa, which released the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Those companies most immediately impacted are reluctant to talk about how the New Line demise will affect business.

Croisette crawlers are abuzz with what brothers Nigel and Trevor Green, whose Entertainment Films is a top indie distributor in the U.K., will do to replace their New Line deal. The duo is confident that their buying power, bolstered by a pay TV deal they have in place, means they can usually outbid others in the U.K.

Entertainment may very well be here on the Riviera to ink a replacement studio level output deal here.

"They'll be fine. They'll just go out there and buy the top product to replace the number of titles they were getting from New Line," said one U.K. buyer.

Meanwhile in France, Metropolitan Filmexport has an output deal for New Line titles that runs until at least "Four Christmases" at year's end.

"They had a supply line and built the rest of their slate around that. What happens next is a question for them," said a rival distributor.

The Spanish were more verbal.

Felipe Ortiz, president of Spain's Tripictures, which has New Line titles there through 2008, said: "It doesn't really affect us. Now we have to substitute the six annual titles we got from New Line."

As for Germany, the end of the New Line pipeline will have little effect on the German market, where the label's titles already are funneled through Warners.

In North America, Canadian distrib Alliance Films is talking to Relativity Media about a deal to distribute Relativity's titles in Canada.

Pamela Rolfe, Scott Roxborough, Etan Vlessing and Steven Zeitchik contributed to this report.