Madstone Closes Theatrical and Production Companies
by Wendy Mitchell
Madstone Films and Madstone Theaters have shut down operations. In a prepared statement, Madstone said simply Monday, “The company was not able to achieve its business goals.” Company spokeswoman Erin Owens told indieWIRE that Madstone laid off about 180 people. Chip Seelig and Tom Gruenberg co-founded the company in 1999, but Seelig hadn’t been affiliated with the company since February.
Madstone Theaters abruptly shut down its operations at its nine arthouse movie theaters throughout the U.S. On June 1, it closed its Atlanta, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Chandler, Ariz., theaters, and on June 7 (yesterday), it closed houses in Albuquerque, N.M., Cary, N.C., Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Diego. Madstone’s Tampa, Fla.-based theater will remain open as Madstone solidifies a deal with new management. The San Diego theater may re-open on June 11 under new management, and the Cary theater may also find new owners, but Madstone would not reveal the potential new owners. Another theater in Baltimore, which the company called a “new build” will have its lease reassigned.
Madstone Films, the production arm, also closed its doors. Madstone Films started a unique initiative to fund first-time directors as they made digital features; the first three filmmakers selected for the program were Lisa Siwe, Joan Stein, and Aaron Woodley. Woodley’s film, “Rhinoceros Eyes,” which premiered at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival, is the only completed film in the program; it debuted in theaters this spring. The program is also now shut down.
In 2002, Madstone Films acquired stalwart indie distributor New Yorker Films; however New Yorker had continued to be run by Dan Talbot since the acquisition. “The closing of Madstone in no way affects Dan Talbot or New Yorker Films,” Madstone’s Owens told indieWIRE.
Madstone’s third business area was a distribution network of digital projection systems, which was also shut down.