Breaking: WB Mothership Cuts Off Picturehouse and Warner Independent

As first foreseen here last week, bad news rolled into Picturehouse HQ today in the form of a batch of pink slips. Warner Bros, is shuttering the art-house/indie/foreign distribution arm in the wake of its belt-tightening at Picturehouse's parent company New Line; we're a little more surprised, however, to read that Warners is also closing shop at Warner Independent Pictures. We knew Jeff Robinov and Alan Horn were unhappy with the boutique business, but Jesus. Picturehouse chief Bob Berney and WIP boss Polly Cohen, tagged for a possible (if implausible) power-sharing arrangement as recently as last week, are both being shown the door, as are both offices' staffs in New York and Los Angeles. We'll be following up later with word on that rumored independent venture of Berney's, but in the meantime, the full press release from Warner Bros. follows after the jump.

PICTUREHOUSE AND WARNER INDEPENDENT PICTURES TO CEASE OPERATIONS (May 8, 2008 - Burbank, CA) Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures will cease operations, it was announced today by Alan Horn, President & COO, Warner Bros.

"With New Line now a key part of Warner Bros., we're able to handle films across the entire spectrum of genres and budgets without overlapping production, marketing and distribution infrastructures," said Horn. "After much painstaking analysis, 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. We're 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 Bros."

Bob Berney has served as President, Picturehouse and Polly Cohen as President, Warner Independent Pictures. The management teams from both companies will be meeting in the weeks ahead with executives from the Warner Bros. Pictures Group to determine the status of projects in various stages of development and acquisition, as well as distribution of already-dated films.

"Working with Polly and her team at Warner Independent has been great for me personally and a valuable experience for the company," said Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. "I'd like to thank everyone at Warner Independent for their passion and dedication to independent films and filmmakers. They were involved with some very important films and helped further the talents and careers of a number of writers and directors, and between Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line, we'll continue to nurture those relationships and produce those types of films."

"Bob is an incredibly talented film executive and made Picturehouse an important player in the world of independent film in a relatively short time," said Horn. "I'm extremely grateful to Bob and the entire team at Picturehouse. Their accomplishments and the films they created speak volumes about their dedication to and understanding of the art of film."

Upcoming Picturehouse films include Mongol (June 6), Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (in limited release June 20; wide release on July 2) and The Women (September 12). Warner Independent's upcoming releases include Towelhead (August 8) and Slumdog Millionaire (in limited release starting November 7).