When I think of New Line Cinema, my first thought is of Freddy Krueger. Then Lord of the Rings. And then probably Austin Powers. Aside from a stray piece of quality cinema here and there, though, New Line has been pretty darn unreliable lately. (Or very reliable if you're someone who loves bad movies.) Seems they've burned all of the Rings goodwill (and profits) on titles like After the Sunset, Blade: Trinity, Son of the Mask, King's Ransom, Monster-in-Law, The Man, Final Destination 3, Take the Lead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and The Last Mimzy. (On the other hand we have the very amusing Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, the even funnier Wedding Crashers, the silly-but-fun Snakes on a Plane, the excellent Little Children, the dicey Running Scared, the underrated Fracture and this summer's Hairspray.)

But according to this rather illuminating article from the L.A. Times, New Line is looking for an image make-over -- and they want one in a hurry. With longtime marketing chief Russell Schwartz gone and new arrival Chris Carlisle ready to take over, New Line aims to dig itself out of last place, profits-wise. To that end they've been rejiggering a lot of their impending releases (such as Mr. Woodcock, Martian Child and Rendition), but there's really no denying that they spent waaaaaay too much money on Rush Hour 3. But I guess the studio was desperate for a summertime tent-pole of their own -- and boy did they overpay for it. (The studio also has one big hope on the horizon: Their rendition of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass -- oh, and the long-awaited Harold & Kumar sequel, which hits theaters next Spring. Ooh, and I hear Shoot 'Em Up is crazy fun.)

But the news out of New Line that we really care about the most is this: Have Bob Shaye and Peter Jackson been able to kiss and make up? And if so, does that mean Mr. Jackson will be invited back to helm The Hobbit? Well it sure looks like Mr. Shaye is singing a new tune these days: "Notwithstanding our personal quarrels, I really respect and admire Peter and would love for him to be creatively involved in some way in The Hobbit." Hmph, that sounds a whole lot different from "(Jackson) will never make any movie with New Line Cinema again while I'm still working for the company" -- which is what he said in January.

All things considered, I find myself pulling for New Line. This is a company that was built on the back of a rather cool horror franchise, and while their lame flicks definitely outnumber their quality efforts -- the studio does manage to hit a solid homer every once in a while. Maybe not financially, but I'm just interested in the movies. Plus it'd take a whole lot of awful movies to cancel out the awesomeness of the Rings franchise. Say what you will about New Line, but we wouldn't even have that trilogy if it wasn't for the studio's risk-taking ways. Plus they gave Paul Thomas Anderson free reign to make his masterpiece, so if that doesn't earn them some credit, nothing will. (I know it was a long time ago, but it's just that great a flick.)