EDITORS NOTE: This story was updated with information regarding an email message sent by New Yorker to filmmakers.
With rumors swirling all weekend among industry insiders, New Yorker Films, the venerable film distribution company, confirmed today that it is closing its doors. They made the announcement via a simple statement on their website.
“After 43 years in business, New Yorker Films has ceased operations,” the statement reads. “We would like to thank the filmmakers and producers who trusted us with their work, as well as our customers, whose loyalty has sustained us through the years.”
Founded in 1965 by Dan Talbot, New Yorker has a legendary legacy, boasting a long-standing track record in international film distribution, bringing a staggering number of international auteurs to this country’s movie theaters over more than four decades. The company’s crucial role in establishing a lasting film culture in this country cannot be underestimated. A New York Times profile in 1987, marking a 14-week salute to the company at New York’s Public Theater, listed an illustrious roster of filmmakers whose films were released by the company: Ackerman, Bertolucci, Bresson, Chabrol, Fassbinder, Fellini, Godard, Herzog, Kieslowski, Malle, Rohmer, Rossellini, Sembene, Wenders, Schlondorff, and many others.
Talbot, a beloved film figure, formed New Yorker Films in the wake of running the New Yorker Theater at Broadway and 88th St in Manhattan, deciding to take on the distribution of Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Before the Revolution.” Nearly five years ago he spoke about his history in a speech at the Gotham Awards that was later published by indieWIRE.
Neither Dan Talbot or Jose Lopez from New Yorker Films have been available for comment today. Insiders began buzzing more intensely about the company late last week after word spread within the industry that the company was failing under the weight of apparent monies owed to Technicolor. At Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards in California, numerous industry figures were wondering about the fate of the company and its library. Talbot’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas is not expected to be affected by the decision to close New Yorker Films, according to numerous well-placed insiders.
An email message recently sent by Lopez to filmmakers was forwarded to indieWIRE this afternoon, it reads: “I have sad news.The parent company of New Yorker Films has defaulted on a loan. The assets of New Yorker were used as security on the loan. The lender has informed us that it intends to foreclose on these assets. New Yorker stopped doing business yesterday…We are in total shock that after forty three years this has happened.”
Many active members of the film community have worked at New Yorker over the years, ranging from Bingham Ray, Jeff Lipsky, John Vanco and Susan Wrubel, to Mary Ann Hult, Reid Rosefelt, Mark Lipsky, Sasha Berman, Suzanne Fedak, Amy Heller, Rebecca Conget and Harris Dew.
New Yorker was acquired by Madstone in 2002, but survived and continued even after Madstone shut its doors just two years later.
”These are ‘difficult’ films, not popular mass-market films,” Dan Talbot told the New York Times in the 1987 profile. ”They’re meant for a small, elite audience. And nothing has changed in 20 years; it’s still a very tiny, elite audience. There were other distributors who were bringing in these films, but I would say that our role was to introduce some of the more risky films that on the surface did not seem to have a wide audience. Distribution of that kind is a very financially masochistic business. This is an audience that generally knows at least one foreign language, that has done a certain amount of traveling, that is probably interested in wine and foreign cars and that is fed up with all the junk that comes out of the West Coast. There’s been no dynamic expansion; there is still a limited audience for this kind of film.”