Michael Lynne, Former New Line CEO and Co-Chairman, Dies at 77

Hollywood veteran partnered with Bob Shaye and executive produced the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy

Michael Lynne
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Michael Lynne, a Hollywood producer who helped transform New Line Cinema into a powerhouse and served as an executive producer on Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, has died. He was 77.

Lynne’s passing Sunday night was confirmed by a spokesperson at Unique Features in the office of his longtime partner Bob Shaye.

“He was understanding, incisive, warm, funny, and creative,” Shaye told TheWrap. “He was a man of integrity, talent, creativity, warmth and humanitarianism that was to my mind unparalleled among the acquaintances that I had, and I will value his friendship forever.”

Lynne’s passing came as somewhat of a surprise to Shaye, who said that Lynne was expected to be heading back from the hospital earlier last week, but “things went from not good to worse.” He added that a funeral will be held for Lynne on Thursday.

Lynne joined Shaye at New Line Cinema in the late 1980s. He was appointed president and co-COO at the studio and then named co-chairman and co-CEO in 2001. During his time there, he worked to take New Line from an indie house to a box office force.

In 2008, Lynne and Shaye left New Line and formed a new venture called Unique Features. He also served on the board of directors with IMAX, joining as a director in 2013.

“It is with great sadness that IMAX learned of the passing of Michael Lynne,” IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond said in a statement. “Michael was much more than a great director of IMAX. He was a great friend to us all, a source of inspiration and generously shared his wisdom and values. We will miss him greatly.”

Lynne took a risk with the “Lord of the Rings” films, convincing director Peter Jackson to turn the books by J.R.R. Tolkien into a trilogy. The expensive epics ultimately raked in over $3 billion at the global box office. He’s also an executive producer behind films such as “Hairspray,” “The Golden Compass,” 2010’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.”