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Robert Shaye

Since founding New Line Cinema in 1967, BOB SHAYE has guided the company's growth from a privately-held art film distributor to one of the entertainment industry's leading independent studios and a veritable box office force.

Recently, Shaye has returned to his origin as a filmmaker directing New Line's sci-fi adventure The Last Mimzy. The film tells the story of two young children who discover a box of highly sophisticated toys which empower them with a series of remarkable abilities. Shaye's previous work as a feature director came with the 1990 romantic comedy Book of Love.

After beginning his filmmaking career at the age of 15 with a training film for employees of his father's supermarket, Shaye found early success as a young filmmaker. He took First Prize at the prestigious Society of Cinematologists' Rosenthal Competition, where he and Martin Scorsese shared the Best Motion Picture by an American Director Under the Age of 25 honor.

While working at the Museum of Modern Art, Shaye began to explore the world of distribution and formed New Line Cinema, in his Greenwich Village apartment. Building on re-releases of cult films like Reefer Madness and first-run domestic distribution of foreign films, New Line broke out commercially with the release of such popular franchises as the Street Fighter series, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Those successful series set the stage for later New Line hits like Rush Hour, Austin Powers, Dumb & Dumber, The Wedding Singer, Seven, Boogie Nights, The Mask and Blade.

With Shaye as Co-Chairman, New Line has developed a reputation for working miracles in niche markets and became a trailblazer in the industry thanks to its innovative business strategies, many of which have since become industry norms.

The studio's maverick style was never more evident than in 1998, when writer/director Peter Jackson brought his 25-minute pitch reel for a big screen epic of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic The Lord of the Rings to New Line, hoping to turn the three volumes into two films. Shaye suggested Jackson make three films and mandated the subsequent green-light for an unprecedented simultaneous production for all three installments.

The results of the gamble are staggering. Combined, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was nominated for 30 Oscars, winning 17, including a clean sweep of 11 awards for The Return of the King, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. At the box office, all three films combined to earn nearly $3 billion worldwide.

This established New Line as the most successful independent film company ever. But New Line's recent success is not limited to the Rings phenomenon. Other breakout films include the top-grossing comedy of 2005, Wedding Crashers, as well as such hits as Monster-in-Law, The Notebook, Elf, Freddy vs. Jason, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the Oscar-nominated A History of Violence.

As New Line celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2007, the studio has an exciting slate of upcoming films scheduled for release including The Golden Compass, based on author Phillip Pullman's bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy; Rush Hour 3; and a big-screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical comedy Hairspray, starring John Travolta and Queen Latifah.

A University of Michigan graduate with a degree in business administration and a J.D. degree from Columbia University Law School, Shaye is also a Fulbright Scholar, member of the New York State Bar, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Motion Picture Pioneers and the American Film Institute.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2007.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Robert Shaye Facts

 Aka Bob Shaye
OccupationProducer, Actor, Director
BirthdayMarch 3, 1939 (84)
BirthplaceDetroit, Michigan, USA

Selected Filmography

Not available.