New Line Film Productions Inc., often simply referred to as New Line Cinema, is an American film studio founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye as a film distribution company, later becoming an independent film studio.
New Line Cinema was established in 1967 by the then 27-year-old Robert Shaye as a film distribution company, supplying foreign and art films for college campuses in the United States. Shaye operated New Line's offices out of his apartment at 14th Street and Second Avenue in New York City. One of the company's early successes was its distribution of the 1936 anti-cannabis propaganda film Reefer Madness, which became a cult hit on American college campuses in the early 1970s. New Line also released many classic foreign-language films, like Stay As You Are, Immoral Tales and Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (which became the first New Line film to win an Oscar). The studio has also released many of the films of John Waters.
In 1976, New Line secured funding to produce its first full-length feature, Stunts, an action thriller about murders of a number of stuntmen in Hollywood. The film was directed by Mark Lester and released in 1977. Although not considered a critical success, the film performed well commercially on the international market and on television.
New Line produced or co-produced three more films in 1981 and 1983: Alone in the Dark, a horror film about escapees from a lunatic asylum; Xtro, a science fiction fantasy; and Polyester, directed by John Waters. Polyester was one of the first films to introduce a novelty cinema experience, Odorama, where members of the audience were provided with a set of "scratch and sniff" cards, to be scratched and sniffed during appropriate times during the film, which provided an additional sensory connection to the viewed image.
A Nightmare on Elm Street was produced and released by New Line in 1984. The franchise was New Line's first commercially successful series after a devastating financial slump, leading the company to be nicknamed "The House that Freddy Built". The film had a production cost of $1.8M and grossed over $25.5M at the US box office. It was the first film to feature actor Johnny Depp. A year later, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge was released. It grossed $3.3M in the first three days and over $30M at the domestic box office. Nightmare 3 was released in 1987. In its first weekend it grossed more than any previously released independent film and went on to make almost $45M at the US box office.
In November 1990, New Line purchased a 52% stake in television producer RHI Entertainment, which would later be sold to Hallmark Cards. In May of the following year, New Line purchased the home video and foreign rights to 600 films held by Sultan Entertainment Holdings, aka Nelson Entertainment Group; the deal also included an 11-film distribution deal with Castle Rock Entertainment. On November 27, 1991, New Line purchased Sultan outright.
On January 28, 1994, New Line Cinema was acquired by Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting System, which then merged with Time Warner in 1996. While fellow Turner-owned studios Hanna-Barbera Productions and Castle Rock Entertainment eventually became units of Warner Bros., New Line was kept as its own separate entity until February 28, 2008, when Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes announced that New Line would shut down as a separately operated studio.
Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne said that they would step down with a letter to their employees. They promised, however, along with Time Warner and Jeffery Bewkes, that the company would continue to operate its financing, producing, marketing, and distributing operations of its own films with the New Line logo, but would do so now as a part of Warner Bros. and be a smaller studio, releasing a smaller number of films than in past years.
As to the company's future, according to Alan Horn, the Warner Bros. president at the time of the consolidation: "There's no budget number required. They'll be doing about six per year, though the number may go from four to seven; it's not going to be 10." As to content, "New Line will not just be doing genre [...] There's no mandate to make a particular kind of movie."
In 2007, New Line Cinema and Castle Rock Entertainment collaborated on Fracture, their first joint venture since the mid-1990s before both companies were bought by Turner.
In the coming years, New Line will release several films based on properties originated at WB. These include a remake of the 1958 musical film Damn Yankees, a film with George Lopez playing Looney Tunes character Speedy Gonzales, and another film in the National Lampoon's Vacation series.
New Line Cinema was merged with its parent company Warner Bros. in 2008. The disappointment of The Golden Compass was largely blamed for the decision, in which New Line spent $180 million on the development of the film, yet only grossed $70 million in the US market.
New Line moved from its long time headquarters from Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles in June 2014 to Warner Bros. lot Building 76, formerly used by Legendary Entertainment, a former WB film co-financier.
The last movie released by New Line Cinema as a separate company was the Will Ferrell film Semi-Pro.