Bauer to downsize company

New Martinez shingle cuts staff 20%

Just a year after Philippe Martinez opened his film company, Bauer Martinez Entertainment, and announced his intention to build the biggest indie studio in Hollywood, the company is downsizing.

About 20% of the company’s 35-person staff has been let go, the studio confirmed.

Dennis Higgins, senior VP of publicity for Bauer Martinez, said the cutbacks were made “across all departments” and due to the poor box office performance of the company’s last two films, “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” and “Harsh Times.”

He said all operations at the company were still going forward and the cutbacks did not affect Bauer Martinez’s mandate to produce two or three pics a year, along with a few acquisitions. He emphasized that no cuts were made in development and that the company would focus more on that division going forward.

“Van Wilder,” which opened Dec. 1, has made just under $4 million at the box office. “Harsh Times,” released last month, has grossed $3.3 million domestically.

The pics were both released via MGM though a three-picture distribution pact Bauer Martinez has with the studio. Under the pact, MGM has the option to put up the P&A for the films, though confusion over those terms affected the marketing campaign for “Harsh Times.” As reported, MGM had originally expected Bauer to pay for the film’s marketing, but ultimately it was MGM that paid. That misunderstanding, as well as issues related to Bauer clearing the rights to the film, caused a delay in publicity.

MGM is also releasing the upcoming Bauer Martinez pic “I Could Never Be Your Woman,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer. But after that film is released, it is not expected the two companies will continue to do business together.

Bauer Martinez will distribute and market its other upcoming films “The Flock,” with Richard Gere, and “The Amateurs” starring Jeff Bridges.

Martinez launched Bauer Martinez last year as a way of embarking on a clean slate after serving jail time for fraud in France after a failed film venture in the 1990s.