Bob Shaye born in Detroit.
Michael Lynne born in Brooklyn.
Directs first short — a bag boy’s training film at his father’s supermarket.
Graduates from U. of Michigan‘s business school.
Michael Lynne graduates from Brooklyn College an an English lit major, while Shaye attends post-graduate studies at Paris’ Sorbonne.
Experimental short “Image” ties for first place in Society of Cinematologists’ Rosenthal competition for filmmakers under 25. The other winner is Martin Scorsese.
Shaye and Lynne both graduate from Columbia U. School of Law, where they first become acquainted.
Shaye wins the ASCAP/Nathan Burkan Memorial Competition for academic papers on copyright law.
Shaye attends U. of Stockholm on Fulbright Scholarship to study copyright law. During that time helms short film (“On Fighting Witches”) about a Swedish witch’s Sabbath.
While working in the Museum of Modern Art’s film stills department, a 25-year-old Shaye founds New Line Cinema, aimed at offering foreign and art films to college campuses.
New Line’s first office is in Shaye’s apartment, a five-story walk-up, at 14th Street and Second Avenue in NYC. His first deal: a 50-50 profit sharing pact to distribute two Czech films that bowed at MoMA.
New Line packages three features — including the Czech New Wave pics “Martyrs of Love” and “The End of August at the Hotel Ozone” as well as several shorts including Shaye’s — for 16mm college distribution.
A deal is cut — another profit-sharing pact, with no cash up front — to distribute Jean-Luc Godard’s “Sympathy for the Devil,“ featuring the Rolling Stones, to colleges and, later, theatrically.
Distributes “Confrontation at Kent State” as a public service, with the company’s tagline: “Film Distribution for the New Generation.”
Offers a package of youth-oriented underground pics on the college circuit, including the Second City troupe’s comedy “The Virgin President” and counterculture comedy “The Conspiracy Circus” (aka “Chicago 70”).
Shaye marries Swedish-born Eva Lindsten.
Releases a pair of films from a young German helmer named Werner Herzog (docu “Fata Morgana” and bizarre drama “Even Dwarfs Started Small”).
Among other early successes are Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Medea,” starring Maria Callas, and a surrealist Brazilian cinema novo pic, “Macunaima.”
Shaye co-owns the Upper West Side’s Olympic Theater for a spell; during his tenure, a Cuban film fest is disrupted by both anti-Castro protesters (who release mice in the theater) and the government (which ultimately forces the fest to end early after seizing several prints it says are contraband).
After Shaye realizes that a campy 1938 antimarijuana pic is in the public domain, he launches “Reefer Madness” on a successful midnight and college circuit run, grossing over $2 million. A year later, he would add two more ’30s cautionary tales — “Cocaine Fiends” and “Sex Maniacs” — to the program.
John Waters’ bad-taste classic “Pink Flamingos” has an epic run in urban midnight screenings around the nation. The company earlier had turned down a chance to distribute Waters’ “Multiple Maniacs” — Shaye deemed it a bit too out there — but following “Flamingos'” success, would launch into a long-term partnership, distributing his next four films including “Female Trouble” (1974) and “Desperate Living” (1977).
Company announces it will make concerted push into more mainstream theatrical distribution (while maintaining its nontheatrical biz).
Italian director Lina Wertmuller’s “The Seduction of Mimi” is a solid hit on the arthouse circuit, despite (or because of?) sizable cuts made to the pic by Shaye.
“A Very Natural Thing,” one of the first nonexploitation gay-themed indies, and Neil Young music doc “Journey Through the Past” is among releases.
Releases a spate of Claude Chabrol pics including “Wedding in Blood,” “The Nada Gang” and “Ophelia.”
Following the success of Bruce Lee films, Japanese martial-arts star Sonny Chiba‘s “The Streetfighter” becomes a midnight movie smash and New Line’s first tentpole.
“Immoral Tales,“ a French quartet of erotic stories — one of which features Paloma (daughter of Pablo) Picasso — is promoted with the tagline “You don’t have to go to a museum to see an X-rated Picasso.” Pic, curiously, isn’t officially X-rated; it was released unrated.
Acquires Peter Weir‘s debut feature, a black comedy titled “The Cars That Ate Paris.” Distrib trims film considerably, and redubs lead actor with Yank accent. Altered pic, misleadingly titled “The Cars That Eat People,” is unsuccessful. Pic would be reissued, in its original form, in 1984.
Finances its first full-length production, “Stunts,“ an action thriller about stuntmen. Pic is directed by Mark Lester with a story by Shaye. The $600,000 production grosses a modest $2 million in regional release.
Gerard Depardieu starrer “Get out Your Handkerchiefs,” from French helmer Bertrand Blier, is released. It would win distrib’s first Oscar (in the foreign-language pic category). Shaye would later recount how, on Oscar night, even his new cachet couldn’t get him past the Studio 54 bouncer.
New Line continues its focus on foreign-language pics with Italian films “Stay as You Are” (starring Nastassja Kinski) and Ettore Scola’s “Down and Dirty.”
First company logo, a stylized “NL,” appears on promo material.
Lynne joins the company as outside counsel and adviser to the company.
Co-produces “Polyester,” John Waters’ most-mainstream pic yet. It features a gimmick called Odorama, with a set of scratch-and-sniff cards passed out to auds for an interactive experience.
A re-release of 1974’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (originally distribbed by shuttered indie Bryanston) rakes in coin, particularly at midnight screenings.
In the wake of success of slasher titles such as “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” comes horror pic “Alone in the Dark,“ starring Jack Palance and co-written by Shaye. Pic also reps first of several New Line film appearances by Shaye’s younger sister, character actress Lin Shaye (best known for “There’s Something About Mary”).
Attempts to spark a midnight/college cult hit with Canadian sci-fi/musical spoof “Big Meat Eater” — the tagline: “Meat to please you! Pleased to meat you!”
Releases New York filmmaker Susan Seidelman’s debut pic, “Smithereens,” the first U.S. indie screened in competition at Cannes.
Company moves to a larger office at 38th Street and Eighth Avenue in Gotham.
Lynne, now an entertainment lawyer serving as counsel to the company after a chance meeting with old classmate Shaye in Gotham, joins the board of directors.
Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” is released unrated, it is a midnight circuit success.
Unleashes Freddy Krueger in the first “Nightmare on Elm Street,” directed by Wes Craven, in regional release. Pic, which cost $1.8 million to produce, grosses $25.5 million at the box office.
Quickly made “Nightmare on Elm Street 2” goes on to earn over $30 million in the U.S., cementing the Krueger character’s appeal among horror fans.
“Creepers” — a Dario Argento horror pic — features a young Jennifer Connelly in her first lead role.
Pacts with RCA/Columbia Home Video to distribute New Line releases and produce a slate of 10 pics for the vid market. New Line also establishes own theatrical distribution arm to improve placement of films in larger exhib chains.
NYU student Michael De Luca becomes an intern at the company; over the next few years, he would rise quickly through the ranks, ultimately becoming head of production.
U.S. indie drama “Buddies” is one of the first features to address the AIDS epidemic in the gay community.
Company floats an initial public offering on the American Stock Exchange, underwritten by Drexel Burnham Lambert, which generates $4.5 million. Distrib becomes the first independent studio to become a publicly traded company.
Opens its Los Angeles office at 116 N. Robertson Blvd.
Alien horror pic “Critters” delivers decent coin, spawning a 1988 sequel, and a pair of straight-to-video installments (one starring Leonardo DiCaprio) in the early ’90s.
Shaye makes his feature acting debut in a cameo in New Line’s “Quiet Cool.” He’s billed as L.E. Moko (derived from a childhood pet’s name), it would become his usual pseudonym for such bits.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors,“ New Line’s first nationwide (1,000-plus screens) release, grosses $8.9 million in its opening weekend, an indie record. It goes on to make almost $45 million.
Company celebrates its 20th anniversary, unveiling a brand new company logo (the current film clip design).
New Line produces and releases “Hairspray,” directed by John Waters, and releases Harvey Fierstein’s “Torch Song Trilogy.“ Fierstein would later deliver a Tony-winning performance in the legit version of Waters’ film.
The fourth “Elm Street,” “The Dream Master,” is the most successful in the series yet, earning nearly $50 million in domestic B.O. (pic is written by future Oscar winner Brian Helgeland). A Shaye-produced TV skein based on “Elm Street,” “Freddy’s Nightmares,“ debuts in the fall, distribbed by Lorimar. It would last two seasons.
New Line Intl. is formed to handle some overseas distribution of pics.
Distribution deal cut with CineTel Films; among first releases is “976-EVIL,” helmed by Freddy Krueger thesp Robert Englund.
National Assn. of Theater Owners honors Shaye with career achievement award.
Lynne, having been the company’s outside counsel for 10 years, becomes president and chief operating officer. Shaye becomes chairman-CEO.
Joins Carolco Pictures in a joint venture, Seven Arts. Among pics released under the short-lived imprint are Abel Ferrara’s “King of New York” and Martha Coolidge’s Oscar-nominated drama “Rambling Rose” (1991).
Forms homevideo division, and Shaye and Lynne finalize a series of significant transactions — including purchasing Nelson Entertainment Group — to secure homevid rights for a widening film library.
New Line releases “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,“ the company’s first No. 1 box office opener. Pic, acquired from H.K.-based Golden Harvest for $3 million, goes on to gross over $200 million worldwide to make it the highest-grossing independent film at the time. Two sequels would follow.
New Line successfully taps the urban market with Reginald Hudlin’s directorial debut, “House Party.“ The comedy would spawn two sequels.
Forms arthouse arm Fine Line Features to release boutique titles.
Invests in Robert Halmi’s RHI Entertainment, expanding its presence into TV production and distribution, and forms New Line Television Distribution.
New Line acquires RHI, which had entered bankruptcy proceedings, and adds the company’s library of programs including “Lonesome Dove.” Launches first New Line TV first-run syndicated series, “Dr. Richard Leakey’s EarthWatch.”
Jane Campion’s “An Angel at My Table” is Fine Line’s first release.
Shaye’s feature directorial debut, ’50s teen comedy “Book of Love,“ is released.
The arthouse shingle produces Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho,” co-starring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
Rob Reiner’s “Misery” becomes New Line Home Video’s first VHS release under a deal to distribute Castle Rock pics. Company buys homevid rights to the “Elm Street” titles from Media Home Entertainment.
Peter Jackson submits a screenplay for a sixth “Elm Street” pic, but it’s never made, though Freddy Krueger does return later in the year in “Freddy’ Dead: The Final Nightmare.” It does, however, mark the beginning of the relationship between the Kiwi helmer and New Line exec (later Fine Line topper) Mark Ordesky.
Fine Line ushers in helmer Robert Altman‘s return to form, backing his acidic Hollywood satire “The Player” and Raymond Carver adaptation “Short Cuts” (1993). The films would earn the director back-to-back Oscar noms.
Company moves its Gotham offices to its current location at 888 Seventh Ave., across the street from Carnegie Hall.
Ted Turner’s Turner Broadcasting System acquires New Line Cinema in a deal north of $500 million in stock and cash; Shaye, who reportedly made about $100 million off the deal, stays on as chief.
New Line launches into long-term exclusive deal with cable web Encore (later Starz!), replacing a deal in place since 1990 with Showtime. Also, homevid distribution deal with RCA/Columbia comes to an end.
The Hughes brothers’ “Menace II Society” earns critical acclaim, crosses over from urban to mainstream market.
At De Luca’s urging, young comic Jim Carrey is signed to topline “The Mask” for less than $500,000 (pic brings in more than $320 million worldwide). Carrey also co-stars in another pic for the studio, the Farrelly brothers’ “Dumb and Dumber”; his $7 million payday creates a bit of rancor over the then-startling sum for an untested star, but “Dumber” grosses more than $240 million globally.
Shaye appears as himself in “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” the horror helmer’s self-reflexive take on Freddy Krueger 10 years after the razor-fingered villain’s creation.
Fine Line releases “Hoop Dreams,” which goes on to become one of the top-grossing documentaries of all time; its snub at the Oscars in the docu category stirs a bit of controversy.
Pacts with France’s Havas Group in first foray into interactive multimedia business.
The jet-black suspenser “Seven,“ starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, anchors a solid B.O. year, including urban comedy “Friday” (starring comic Ice Cube and Chris Tucker), Jackie Chan starrer “Rumble in the Bronx” and the videogame-inspired “Mortal Kombat.“
“Hoop Dreams” becomes the No. 1 selling documentary in video history.
Shaye receives IFP/New York Gotham lifetime achievement award and the Motion Picture Pioneers’ Pioneer of the Year award.
Time Warner acquires Turner’s TBS, making New Line part of the world’s largest media company.
Time Warner flirts with selling New Line, but decides to keep the company.
After winning a heated Sundance fest bidding war with Miramax Films, Fine Line (for a reported $2.5 million) acquires Aussie biopic “Shine.“ It becomes Fine Line’s top grosser and earns the specialty division its first pic Oscar nom, and a trophy for lead actor Geoffrey Rush.
Another gamble — a record $4 million for Shane Black’s script for “The Long Kiss Good Night” — doesn’t turn out as well. The Renny Harlin-helmed pic is among a group of underperformers including Bruce Willis’ “Last Man Standing” and Val Kilmer-Marlon Brando remake “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”
A watershed year for New Line during the year-end derby: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” earns three Oscar noms, while Fine Line’s “The Sweet Hereafter,“ from writer-director Atom Egoyan, earns helming and script noms.
Life imitates art as another Oscar nominee, Barry Levinson’s political satire “Wag the Dog,“ gets a profile boost from a real-life presidential scandal (the Clinton affair with Monica Lewinsky) that breaks not long after pic’s release.
Mike Myers’ “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” is a sleeper hit. The movie grosses more than $50 million, and has a strong second wind in ancillary markets. The first of two sequels, “The Spy Who Shagged Me,” would top $100 million domestically in 1999.
Homevid arm becomes one of the first studios to enter the DVD marketplace with three titles: “The Mask,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Seven.” “Mask” is the first DVD to feature deleted scenes and a director’s commentary.
“The Wedding Singer” starring Adam Sandler grosses more than $80 million during its box office run. “Rush Hour,” with Chan and Tucker, and TV-inspired “Lost in Space” — which unseats “Titanic” after its months-long run at No. 1 –also deliver strong returns.
“American History X,” starring Edward Norton, earns the thesp his second Oscar nom, and Gary Ross’ “Pleasantville” earns warm notices and good B.O. Comicbook-inspired “Blade,” starring Wesley Snipes, grosses over $131 million worldwide.
Plans to produce “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy announced. Miramax, which had been developing the project, passed when it couldn’t get helmer Peter Jackson to agree to fewer than three films, one for each of the J.R.R. Tolkien saga’s volumes.
Broadway producer Margo Lion revives the “Hairspray” stage project, enlists composer-lyricist team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman to join the project.
Production begins on “The Lord of the Rings,” which is set for an 18-month schedule and a then-unheard of $270 million production budget to film the three installments consecutively in New Zealand, Jackson’s home country.
New Line is one of two distribs (DreamWorks is the other) to offer awards screeners on DVD for the first time as part of the campaign for Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia.“
Time Warner and America Online announce merger, which is finalized a year later. Fine Line’s “Dancer in the Dark,“ directed by Lars Von Trier, wins top honors at Cannes for its helmer and its star, Icelandic singer Bjork.
Forms a music division, New Line Records, home to such developing and alternative artists such as IMX; the Sounds; Paris, Texas; and Robbers on High Street.
Shaye and Lynne agree to run New Line together and both assume the title of co-chairman and co-CEO. De Luca leaves the production chief post; music prexy Toby Emmerich — who wrote the solid 2000 hit “Frequency” for the studio — takes the reins at New Line Prods.
Marking its 10th anniversary, New Line Home Video changes its name to New Line Home Entertainment and launches innovative, extras-packed DVD line titled infinifilm.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” opens in December around the globe to rapturous reviews and is an instant blockbuster; pic will gross more than $870 million worldwide. “Blow” and “Rush Hour 2” also deliver, with the latter film’s $67.4 million opening marking the best ever for the studio, going on to take in over $220 million domestically.
The successes help offset the disappointment of the long-delayed, upward of $70 million Warren Beatty starrer “Town and Country,“ which tanks, and the expensive Sandler misfire “Little Nicky” (2000).
Total domestic box office gross for 2001 surpasses $570 million, a new record for the studio. Total box office gross outside the U.S. for 2001 surpasses $400 million, with New Line closing in on the $1 billion world wide box office mark with a total take of $970 million.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” is nominated for a near-record 13 Oscars. The film goes on to win four Academy Awards.
“Austin Powers in Goldmember” opens at over $73 million in the U.S. and Canada, making it the biggest July opening ever and the all-time highest opening weekend for a live-action comedy. Pic also holds New Line’s company record for opening three-day weekend gross.
“Hairspray!” opens on Broadway and later goes on to sweep the Tonys, winning eight, including for musical.
Shaye earns the American Film Market’s lifetime achievement honor.
The second “Rings” pic, “The Two Towers,” earns more than $925 million worldwide and earns the series it second consecutive picture Academy Award bid.
New Line enters into an exclusive agreement with HBO Films for the theatrical distribution of its films by Fine Line Features. The first two releases are Academy Award nominee “American Splendor” and Palme d’Or winner “Elephant.“
Modestly budgeted Will Ferrell starrer “Elf” grosses more than $173 million domestically and becomes a surprise Christmas hit. Also this year, New Line finds the horror audience hungry for tuned-up classics, as a remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and long-sought-after showdown pic “Freddy vs. Jason” are solid performers.
In December, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” opens to now-predictable killer numbers at the wickets. “King” earns more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office, making it the second-highest-grossing film ever (behind “Titanic”). Also, the first and second films in the trilogy rank eighth and fourth, respectively, on the list of all-time highest-grossing films.
Together the “Rings” pics have earned more than $2.9 billion at the worldwide box office.
“The Return of the King” sweeps 11 Academy Awards, including picture and director, tying the all-time record for most Oscar wins.
“Wedding Singer” announced as the next production for New Line’s legit arm; “Hairspray!’s” Margo Lion is tapped to produce the show for the 2005-06 Broadway season.
HBO Films/Fine Line’s “Maria Full of Grace” opens in limited release to healthy critical acclaim and B.O. The specialty distrib also acquires rights to Spanish helmer Alejandro Amenabar’s “Out to Sea,“ starring Javier Bardem.
New Line Television reality TV entries include “Amish in the City” on UPN, and “Nightmare on Your Street” on CBS, adapting the “Elm Street” franchise for the tube.
MAJOR SOURCES: The Studio, Variety, New York Times, Baseline