New Line Trims Slate, Eyes Layoffs

The move, which will see New Line release only four movies a year instead of six, follows sibling Warner Bros.' decision to scale back its studio releases.

Warner Bros.' decision to scale back its studio releases has hit sibling New Line Cinema, which is to undergo a further downsizing.

Insiders said Tuesday that New Line will now release just four movies a year, down from a mandated six, with personnel cuts expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

When New Line was absorbed into Warners in early 2008, the company saw its slate trimmed to about six movies a year while its staff was cut from 600 to about 50.

The latest move isn't entirely unexpected. While New Line released eight movies in 2008 (which were mostly holdovers from when the company operated independently), it never hit the six that had been mandated; it released four in 2010 and is on track for five this year.

Toby Emmerich now serves as president of New Line. While Warners is sending signals that it wants him to stay, the downsizing could enter into his career plans.

But while New Line may make fewer movies going forward, the size and scope of those movies is increasing.

When it was reconfigured in 2008, New Line was to supplement Warners' output with lower-budget comedies and horror titles. But as Warners looks to focus more on franchise-type tentpoles, the same is expected of New Line.

The priorities for the company right now are The Hobbit, Peter Jackson's two-picture adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic, and Jack the Giant Killer, being directed by Bryan Singer. Giant Killer, readying for a shoot in London, is especially important as it is a potential franchise starter.

Another project nearing the runway is Rock of Ages, the Adam Shankman-directed musical based on the Broadway smash that stars Tom Cruise.