Fabled indie distributor New Yorker Films closes its doors

New Yorker Films, the pioneer independent-film distributor that was an art-house fixture for four decades, revealed in a curt statement on its website Monday that it would auction off its library and end operations immediately.

The storied distributor’s films had been put up against a loan, which is now in default. “We are in total shock that after forty three years this has happened,” the distributor wrote in an e-mail on Monday to the affected filmmakers.

Although the label’s influence had siphoned off in recent years amid increased competition after a peak in the later ’60s and ’70s, it still owned rights to movies as famous and essential as Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. Dan Talbot, the 82-year-old giant of art-house cinema who opened the company in 1965, told The New York Times that those films could have a new owner by next week.

SpoutBlog has a round-up of industry and onlooker reactions.

As overcrowded independent markets and depressed DVD sales take their toll on indie distributors, stories like New Yorker’s will become increasingly common. In recent years, Paramount and Warner Bros. absorbed and effectively shut down their small-run divisions, including Warner Independent, Picturehouse and Paramount Vantage.

Related links:
News: Warner Bros. plans to lay off 10 percent of worldwide staff
News: Paramount absorbs indie studio

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