Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures (WIP) will both cease operations, it was announced today by Alan Horn, president & chief operating officer of Warner Bros.

Instead of merging the two operations, which came under the same Warner Bros umbrella following New Line Cinema's absorption into the company recently, it has been decided to dispense with a standalone specialised distribution operation altogether.

In future, say insiders, a small handful of specialised films will now probably be handled through big Warner Bros - as they once were before the creation of WIP under Mark Gill.

The double shutdown means that another 70 jobs have been lost at Time Warner, following the 450 lay-offs from the recently shuttered New Line Cinema. Coming on top of yesterday's acquisition of the Sundance Channel by the parent company of rival Independent Film Channel, it means also that the buying market for smaller-budget, adult-orientated films in the US has now dramatically shrunk.

'With New Line now a key part of Warner Bros., we're able to handle films across the entire spectrum of genres and budgets without overlapping production, marketing and distribution infrastructures,' explained Horn.

'After much painstaking analysis, this was a difficult decision to make, but it reflects the reality of a changing marketplace and our need to prudently run our businesses with increased efficiencies. We're confident that the spirit of independent filmmaking and the opportunity to find and give a voice to new talent will continue to have a presence at Warner Bros.'

Bob Berney has served as President, Picturehouse and Polly Cohen as President, Warner Independent Pictures.

The management teams from both companies will be meeting in the weeks ahead with executives from the Warner Bros. Pictures Group to determine the status of projects in various stages of development and acquisition, as well as distribution of already-dated films.

'Working with Polly and her team at Warner Independent has been great for me personally and a valuable experience for the company,' said Jeff Robinov, president, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

'I'd like to thank everyone at Warner Independent for their passion and dedication to independent films and filmmakers. They were involved with some very important films and helped further the talents and careers of a number of writers and directors, and between Warner Bros Pictures and New Line, we'll continue to nurture those relationships and produce those types of films.'

'Bob is an incredibly talented film executive and made Picturehouse an important player in the world of independent film in a relatively short time,' said Horn.

'I'm extremely grateful to Bob and the entire team at Picturehouse. Their accomplishments and the films they created speak volumes about their dedication to and understanding of the art of film.'

Upcoming Picturehouse films include Mongol (June 6), Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (in limited release June 20; wide release on July 2) and The Women (September 12). Warner Independent's upcoming releases include Towelhead (August 8) and Slumdog Millionaire (in limited release starting November 7).