EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that New Line will reduce its output from 8 movies a year to just 4. In addition, some of New Line’s personnel will be laid off in coming weeks. It’s all part of Warner Bros newly named movie boss Jeff Robinov plan to “downsize” the division. The mogul has been quite vocal on the need for Warner Bros to cut down on the total number of movies it releases and markets in order to be able to focus attention on its winners. Our sources say that New Line will still be freestanding — just smaller. There are no plans to exit President and COO Toby Emmerich. “But he may not like the new structure of the company and decide to move on,” an insider speculated. New Line was taken over by Warner Bros in 2008 after Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne were shown the door by Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes after a string of expensive box office failures: as many as 550 New Line staffers lost their jobs. Within the past two years, however, New Line’s movie slate has been performing well and adding to the diversity of the Warner Bros film product. In addition, New Line has the two back-to-back movies of The Hobbit in the pipeline, as well as the Bryan Singer-directed Jack The Giant Killer, the musical Rock Of Ages with Tom Cruise and Russell Brand, the spinoff on Valentine’s Day titled New Year’s Eve, the Seth Gordon-directed comedy Horrible Bosses, and the Steve Carell laugher Burt Wonderstone. In December, Warner Bros rebranded New Line Records as WaterTower Music.
BREAKING: While Peter Jackson and Warner Bros are figuring out where they’ll shoot back-to-back installments of The Hobbit, Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh have begun to set his cast for the ambitious projects that will begin shooting in February for release in December 2012 and 2013. The castings were announced by New Line Cinema COO/president Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros COO/president Alan Horn, MGM co-CEO Steve Cooper, and Jackson. As Deadline told you last week, Martin Freeman is set to play Bilbo Baggins, the adventurous Hobbit whose adventures and discovery of the One Ring leads the story up to The Lord of the Rings. Freeman has appeared in films ranging from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Hot Fuzz to Love Actually.