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New Yorker Films Killed by Madstone?

by Anthony Kaufman
February 24, 2009 5:03 AM
3 Comments
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Beware of being bought: That's the message for small companies like the latest casualty New Yorker Films (and ThinkFilm, Wellspring and Shooting Gallery) when new media companies come in with fanfare, optimism, ambition, and seemingly endless capital, and plan to rescue an art-film mainstay. We've seen it before and we'll see it again. (For ThinkFilm, it was Capitol; for Wellspring, it was the Weinsteins; for Shooting Gallery, it was a lot of things, but it was also itemus. Watch your back, indieWIRE: Who's to say SnagFilms will stay solvent forever?) This is the brutal crush of capitalism, my friends, and when it befalls a company that we all love and respect, it's unfortunate and tragic, but it shouldn't come as a complete surprise. The surprise is actually that New Yorker lasted as long as it did, given the ill-fated timeline that often takes place after a company has been bought. Madstone acquired New Yorker in 2002. In the annoucement in indieWIRE, the COO of Madstone, which no longer exists, said, "The independent film world is a complicated place to exist. We want to take the next step." Ironic, in hindsight. But the fact is that a buy-out always appears to be the next step before disaster: I suspect L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune staffers would probably agree.

Of course, who's to say New Yorker would have even made it to 2003 if Madstone didn't come along? But I'm always leary of the grand ambitions of new entities, proclaiming how they're going to revolutionize the business, hire great executives, and set out on a new path. Eventually, in a subsequent year or two, or three, they take everyone down with them.

The real question now -- unanswered for the moment -- is what will happen to New Yorker's vast and incredible library of titles, featuring essential works by Fassbinder, Herzog, Ozu, Bertolucci, Godard, Bresson, Sembene, Oshima, Schlondorff, Fellini, Wajda, Kieslowski and many more? If it's anything like what happened to Tartan's library, recently acquired by Palisades Media Group, a company with little experience in the auteur sector, we should all be very, very worried.

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3 Comments

  • blogs.indiewire.com | April 19, 2011 8:29 AMReply

    New_yorker_films_killed_by_madstone.. He-he-he :)

  • Christian | February 25, 2009 8:50 AMReply

    Had a hard time finding a way to contact you (just finding this blog took me MINUTES), but you should know that the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages is located in Oregon, not "Oregan" as you say in your otherwise wonderful article about them on Seed. This might be because of the way much of the rest of the country pronounces our state's name; to pronounce it correctly, think of it as spelled "Ore-gun"

  • Edicable One | February 25, 2009 12:39 AMReply

    ...and of course you remember that the founder / creator of Madstone Films is none other than Chip Seelig, the former Goldman Sachs know-it-all and scumbag who created Madstone Theaters and took them into bankruptcy in 2004. He's currently one of the principals of Dune Capital Management, the fund that , among other things, has cofinanced 3 sales of films for Fox and bought Indy Mac Bank.

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