Citing the downturn in the home entertainment industry, Warner Bros. shut down direct-to-video label Warner Premiere this summer, TheWrap has learned.
"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 studio said in a statement to TheWrap. The division will continue and complete production on its remaining film and digital series project into the Fall."
Launched in 2006, the division focused on making sequels or spin-offs to franchises that bypassed a theatrical release. However, the collapse of the DVD market has made Warner Premiere's business model less profitable than originally hoped.
Warner Bros. plans to fold its operations into its digital distribution, animation and home video units. It is working to place Warner Premiere employees in other parts of the company. The closure impacts a "single digit" number of employees, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation.
Films released by Warner Premiere include "Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective" (2009), "The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning" (2007) and "Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove" (2010).