Robert Shaye

Robert Shaye launched New Line Cinema in 1967 as an independent distribution company featuring a small catalog of foreign and art films aimed primarily at college film societies.  

Initial success came from distributing several anti-establishment films, such as the 1930s anti-drug film “Reefer Madness,” John Waters’ “Multiple Maniacs,” “Pink Flamingos,” and “Female Trouble,” and U.S. distribution for Werner Herzog’s “Even Dwarfs Started Small.” 

In the 1980s and ’90s, New Line ventured into producing and distributing films, with successes such as “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “The Hidden,” “Hairspray,” “House Party,” “Pump Up the Volume,” “The Mask,” “Dumb and Dumber,” and “Seven.” The “Austin Powers” series and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy pushed the company to a higher level in the 2000s elevating the company to “mini-major studio” status.

three men in black suits smiling and posing with two oscars
Michael Lynne, Peter Jackson, and Robert Shaye (left to right) at the Governors Ball in Hollywood after the 76th Annual Academy Awards, 2004. Photo courtesy of Zimbio.

Shaye’s papers include personal and business materials related to the early years of New Line, articles and clippings, and some production-related materials, mostly for “The Last Mimzy,” which Shaye directed. In the 1990s, Shaye hired Ira Deutchman to head up Fine Line Features, New Line’s expansion into art house and specialty films.

Finding aid

Robert Shaye in a scene from Wes Craven's "New Nightmare," 1994. Photo courtesy of Aveleyman.

Philip A Hallman

Film Studies Field Librarian