A few notes kicked under the door at Defamer HQ hint that the end may be near for Picturehouse, the Oscar-winning art house shingle plunged into limbo in February after its parent company New Line was absorbed by the Warner Bros. mothership. We have yet to hear where company president Bob Berney will wind up, though a popular rumor has him sharing power at Warners' other struggling boutique outpost, Warner Independent Pictures, with current WIP boss Polly Cohen. We posit at least one more underdog alternative as well — plus a prognosis for the remaining Picturehouse output — after the jump.
Another whisper (and our own preference) has Berney starting fresh at a new company underwritten with hedge fund cash. The latter would suit him well with Cannes on the horizon and Warners' decreasing overall interest in the volatile indie marketplace; the studio would gladly get out anytime, but we hear they're willing to move ahead with Berney if he's interested. We doubt it, particularly as a co-president with Cohen; he's been calling his own shots forever (quite well, we should add) and would be too attractive a prospect to new money with fewer strings attached. And Berney could bring along the majority of his staff, who would likely take pink slips under the WIP scenario.
In any case, the Picturehouse calendar doesn't bode well for any kind of longevity. Despite Marion Cotillard's Oscar win for La Vie en Rose, the bitter disappointment that was Run Fat Boy Run casts a longer shadow over what's looking like a pallid 2008. Most notably, Warners is reportedly unhappy with the all-star remake of The Women set for this fall. A source tells us the B-thriller Amusement could go directly to DVD. Additionally, with so much of New Line's infrastructure — much of which supports Picturehouse's distribution efforts — to be stripped by the end of July, the worst-case scenario has Picturehouse closing out with the Abigail Breslin vehicle Kit Kittridge: An American Girl on July 2 and Warners cleaning up the rest from August on.