Indie Companies: Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures Shut Down

May 7, 2008–Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures are closing shop, it was announced today by Alan Horn, president & COO of Warner.

In a statement, Horn said, “With New Line now a key part of Warner Bros., were able to handle films across the entire spectrum of genres and budgets without overlapping production, marketing and distribution infrastructures.

The closings will eliminate more than 70 positions. This was a difficult decision to make, but it reflects the reality of a changing marketplace and our need to prudently run our businesses with increased efficiencies. Were confident that the spirit of independent filmmaking and the opportunity to find and give a voice to new talent will continue to have a presence at Warner.”

Horn, Warner’s president and chief operating officer, pointed to the recent move to fold in New Line to Warner, which cost more than 500 jobs. “With New Line now a key part of Warner, we’re able to handle films across the entire spectrum of genres and budgets without overlapping production, marketing and distribution infrastructures,” he said.

He emphasized that it made no sense for Warner to continue funding marketing and distribution at Picturehouse and WIP, particularly after expanding its capacity to handle films by absorbing New Line’s marketing-distribution operations.

The release of 600 pictures annually has made the specialty and independent sectors less attractive financially. He also said that such pictures have becomce more likely to screen at multiplexes rather than arthosue venues.

But Warner will still acquire and produce specialty films. Horn cited the success of such fare as “March of the Penguins,” “Before Sunset,” “We Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “La Vie en Rose” and “Snow Angels” as the kinds of projects Warner will buy or produce. Warner will still still set up specialty-style products, by such filmmakers as George Clooney, Steven Soderbergh and Clint Eastwood.

Picturehouse, run by president Bob Berney, has 43 employees. WIP, under Polly Cohen, employs 31 staffers. Cohen will continue to work for Warner as she’s still under contract, and a deal may be offered to Berney.

Berney said Picturehouse will release “Mongol,” “Kit Kittredge” and “The Women” before ceasing operations in September. s.

Warner was the last major to form a specialty label. Under former WIP head Mark Gill, it generated some hits, including 2005’s “March of the Penguins.” Cohen, a former production exec at Watner, succeeded Gill and acquired “Introducing the Dwights” and “Snow Angels,” and produced “In the Valley of Elah.”

Berney’s tenure include New Line buying out former partner HBO and investing in two foreign-language films, “La Vie en rose” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which won multiple Oscars.