Overview: On the bright side, it was a year of stability in New Line Cinema’s executive suites. But, boy, did those honchos miss their precious Peter Jackson. Yes, everyone knew “The Lord of the Rings” juggernaut couldn’t last forever. Still, you can bet the studio was hoping for a softer landing to kick off the post-Frodo era.
Winners and losers: The $81 million-grossing “The Notebook,” directed by New Line favorite son Nick Cassavetes, was as close as the studio came to a blockbuster. “The Butterfly Effect” offered a solid double and “Blade: Trinity” should have a lively DVD afterlife, but those pics had to mitigate losing bets like “Birth,” “Raise Your Voice,” “After the Sunset” and “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.”
Award prospects: While New Line struggled at the box office, its Fine Line Features label generated critical kudos, arthouse biz and Golden Globe noms for “Vera Drake” and “The Sea Inside,” while “Maria Full of Grace” was named as one of the year’s top 10 films by the American Film Institute.
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The year ahead: New Line puts its faith in comedy for 2005, with David Dobkin’s “The Wedding Crashers” and “Monster-in-Law,” starring Jennifer Lopez and the newly unretired Jane Fonda. There’s also “Son of the Mask.” The original starred Jim Carrey and made $120 million, but is that relevant to a sequel released more than a decade later? If the studio has a secret weapon, it could be “The New World,” an ambitious historical piece directed by the reclusive Terrence Malick and starring Colin Farrell.