Following poor quarterly earnings for parent company Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), Warner Bros. Entertainment on Monday announced that it will close its direct-to-video unit, Warner Premiere.
According to the Wrap, the studio has cited ongoing declines in the home entertainment industry as its reason for shuttering the six-year-old label. "Given the continuing decline in the direct-to-video film market and shifting business models in the production of digital series, the decision was made to close Warner Premiere," the company said in a statement.
Warner Premiere largely specialized in the development and production of sequels and other spin-offs that could be released directly to DVD and Blu-ray. Among the titles the division has churned out are "A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song," "Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster" and "Batman: Year One." It also produced "Mortal Kombat: Legacy" and "Aim High," two digital series. One of its more attention-getting endeavors was the sequel to "Lost Boys," which had Corey Feldman reprising his role from the 1987 cult classic.
However, since the unit was founded in 2006, the home-video industry has been battered by the onset of on-demand and direct-streaming services. Last year, overall DVD rentals fell 20 percent. Blockbuster, once the world's largest home-video chain, went bankrupt in 2010, and Netflix, one of the industry's last bastions, has slowly been phasing out its mail-order DVD service to focus on Internet streaming.
Time Warner, meanwhile, has bigger fish to fry. Earlier this month, the conglomerate posted a 10.8 percent drop in adjusted income to $576 million. And with the absence of a major theatrical hit, income for Warner Bros. Pictures also saw a slight decline. It's important to note, however, that the earnings report came out before the release of "The Dark Knight Rises," which so far has netted the studio a domestic gross of almost $400 million.
Warner Premiere's direct-to-video titles were distributed through Warner Home Video, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Warner Bros. Domestic and International Television Distribution. According to the Wrap, it is hoping to transfer Warner Premiere employees to other divisions within the company.