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Warner Bros axes its two niche film labels

Warner Brothers has axed two speciality production companies, Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures, as part of cost-cutting moves that follow the recent folding of New Line Cinema into the Hollywood studio.

The two labels had operated as separate entities within Warner and specialised in smaller films for more niche audiences.

However, with New Line recently losing its studio status and being combined with Warner, the company decided it no longer needed four separate production labels.

New Line had operated alongside Warner as an independent studio with both of the companies owned by Time Warner.

But following the recent appointment of Jeff Bewkes as Time Warner’s chief executive, the decision was taken to fold New Line into its sister studio.

Yesterday’s move to axe Picturehouse and Warner Independent will come as a blow to the independent film sector.

Founded in 2003, Warner Independent specialised in edgier films and documentaries that cost less than $20m from new and established directors, releasing titles such as Darfur Now, In the Valley of Elah and The 11th Hour.

Picturehouse was created as a joint venture between New Line and HBO, Time Warner’s pay-TV operation. The company’s recent releases include Pan’s Labyrinth.

The closure of the two labels, which will result in 70 job losses, came as a surprise in Hollywood, with most pundits expecting that the two operations would be merged.

“After much painstaking analysis, this was a difficult decision to make, but it reflects the reality of a changing marketplace and our need to prudently run our businesses with increased efficiencies,” said Alan Horn, president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros.

The studio will continue to release independent films, although they will be produced under the New Line banner. New Line will also continue to produce bigger budget titles, with a cinematic version of The Hobbit in the works.

“We’re confident that the spirit of independent film-making and the opportunity to find and give a voice to new talent will continue to have a presence at Warner Bros,” Mr Horn added.

Source: Yahoo! Finance