HIGH POINTS: New Line says it’s upscaling its image, but ’93 B.O. was decidedly reliant on the old standards, “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.””National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1” fared well, and street-savvy “Menace II Society” drew critical raves and a surprising B.O. from urban teen crowd. Distribbing “Gettysburg” also gave the power indie some points with new boss Ted Turner while yielding a decent return. Like a miniJeffrey Katzenberg, production prexy Michael De Luca says goal is to get up to 45 to 50 films in release per annum. Coming off its best year ever thanks to “The Player,” Fine Line Features ebbed a bit, but continued to distrib quality pics like “Naked” and “Short Cuts.”
LOW POINTS: “Surf Ninjas” and “Excessive Force” went belly-up at the B.O.; New Line looked downright gruesome in its blitzkrieg firing of most of its L.A. production staff last fall.
RISING STARS: Exec veep Richard Saperstein, who knows the sell side from his days at ICM. Industry wags wonder whether the ex-agent can now handle the buy side, though they acknowledge that he’s one of the best at screenplay analysis. His influence will clearly help formulate the new look New Line.
OUTLOOK FOR ’94: New Line wants to move full speed ahead into the $ 20 mil-to-$ 30 mil budget range. Under soon-to-be-official owner Turner Entertainment, financing will a piece of cake. Look for a major marketing blitz on the $ 20 million production “The Mask,” as well as the Whoopi Goldberg-starrer “Corrina, Corrina.”
Though it is stepping up it slate, NL’s challenge will be to convince Hollywood that it can handle more cultured fare. De Luca says NL plans to boost its in-house product total from 10 to 15 films with the add’l five in the high-budget range. “Personally, I would rather have us enter that arena with films we can comfortably do at that level,” he said. Other challenge looming for NL will be staffing West Coast production office. De Luca says they’re starting the hunt for new blood, so the resumes will be flying.