In a cost-cutting move, Time Warner Inc. said Thursday it plans to merge its Warner Bros. Entertainment unit with its independently operating New Line Cinema, the studio behind "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
Time Warner also said New Line co-chairmen and chief executives Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne had decided to leave the studio but were discussing possible future business deals with the company.
Under the merger, New Line will maintain separate development, production and marketing departments but will integrate those functions with its new parent division "to maximize film performance and operating efficiencies, achieve significant cost savings and improve margins," the company said in a statement.
The new alignment also will help the two companies coordinate film releases and let New Line benefit from Warner Bros. international and digital distribution contracts, Time Warner's president and chief executive, Jeff Bewkes, said.
"New Line has built a strong franchise of cutting-edge development," he added.