Happy 40th Birthday, New Line Cinema! (Oh, by the way, Bob --- you're fired!)
But, as A.O. Scott observed in Saturday's New York Times, New Line was neither specialty division nor genre label. "It went both highbrow and lowbrow, sometimes playing for the niches and sometimes for the mass audiences. It was both oddity and anomaly." Of Bob Shaye, Mr. Scott observed, "[He] may live like Hollywood royalty, but his roots are in Manhattan retail as well as the nervy, disreputable world of grindhouses and exploitation pictures. He was, after all, the man who made the 1930s drug-scare propaganda documentary Reefer Madness into a stale of the late 1960s campus counterculture."
And yet, look what came out of all of that: Pink Flamingos! Freddy Krueger! Austin Powers! Will Ferrell's Elf! The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Trilogy! And, er, oh yeah, a certain little us-versus-world thing called The Lord of the Rings! And even now, in what apparently seems to be its dying moments, Bob Shaye's even tried his hand at directing personally. That would be The Last Mimzy, which I grumbled about here previously. Then, just last week, yet another New Line release, The Golden Compass, pulled a major upset by winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects --- yet it still was a domestic box-office flop!
Now, in what appears to be New Line's twilight, the company is somehow determined to go out with a bang with the help of yet another Will Ferrell party thing, Semi-Pro! My word, this is quite a feisty little studio, for one that's about to be extinct!
Still, for all of that, Bob Shaye and New Line Cinema had attitude, not to mention Hollywood savvy --- the kind that you just can't find in La-la Land anymore. Unless, of course, you happen to be New York's Unofficial Wizard! Godspeed, New Line Cinema! You were one helluva really weird studio --- and believe me, we're gonna miss you!