For years, Warner Bros., in partnership with D.C. Comics, had been releasing quite a bit of direct-to-DVD titles under their Warner Premiere label. Most of the titles were sequels for moderately successful films, like “Ace Ventura”, “Dukes of Hazzard”, “Lost Boys”, and “House on Haunted Hill”. Basically, films that you probably never saw, or didn’t want to see in the first place. Unless, of course, you were one of the few people waiting with bated breath for “Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective”.
But more important to comic book fans is the fact that Warner Premiere is also the label that Warner and D.C. uses to release their original animated titles based on D.C.’s superhero properties like Superman and Batman. The two superheroes have combined for quite a large number of titles over the years, with Batman’s two-parter “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” set for later this year. Since both titles were already completed before this announcement, it’s unlikely their releases will be impacted by the closure. Of course, I could be wrong. The second part is scheduled for 2013, though it would be somewhat silly not to release it if it’s already completed, which was the impression I got.
In a statement to The Wrap, Warner explains their reasoning for shutting down Warner Premiere thusly:
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 division, though, will continue to complete productions of remaining films and other projects that were scheduled for up to the Fall. After that, it’s kaput.
I’ve always wondered if the money studios sunk into these barely-sequels to moderate hits (in some cases, not even hits) were worth the investment. In most cases, these films can’t even be call sequels, but are mostly just retreads of the original with a subtitle tacked onto the title and new actors cast in the familiar roles.