First-look deal at Unique Features expires without renewal

Warner Bros. has parted ways with former New Line toppers Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne, who have seen their first-look deal at Unique Features run out with being renewed.

The studio, Shaye and Lynne had no comment Wednesday about the expiration of the deal. Unique Features remains in a business-as-usual mode, developing several features including “Heavy Rain” at Warners.

Shaye founded New Line in 1967 in his New York apartment and built it into a minimajor through focusing on horror, comedies, art films and the occasional tentpole. The company — home to “The Lord of the Rings,” “Austin Powers,” “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Rush Hour,” “The Mask” and “Boogie Nights” — was folded into Warner Bros. as a small genre arm and Shaye and Lynne were ousted in early 2008 as part of Time Warner’s decision to cut costs by slashing over 500 slots.

Shaye and Lynne signed their first-look deal with Warners a few months later.

Key projects developed at New York-based Unique are an adaptation of Paul McCartney’s “High in the Clouds,” an animated adaptation of a children’s book written by McCartney, Geoff Dunbar and Philip Ardagha about a squirrel’s quest to find an animal sanctuary; it’s partnered with Constantin on “The Mortal Instruments,” an adaptation of the Cassandra Clare fantasy book trilogy; and “Heavy Rain” with David Milch on board to adapt the noir-style videogame.

Warner Bros. currently has 32 term deals with producers, far more than any other studio.

The New York Post first reported on the first-look deal ending for Unique.

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