|Formerly||WCI Home Video (1978–1980)|
Warner Home Video (1980–2016)
|Headquarters||4000 Warner Boulevard,|
|Jim Wuthrich (president)|
|Products||Home video releases|
|Parent||Warner Bros. Entertainment (WarnerMedia Studios & Networks)|
|Divisions||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Subsidiaries||Studio Distribution Services, LLC. (US/Canadian Joint-venture with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)|
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (formerly known as Warner Home Video and WCI Home Video and sometimes credited as Warner Home Entertainment) is the home video distribution division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
It was founded in 1978 as WCI Home Video (for Warner Communications, Inc.). The company launched in the United States with twenty films on Betamax and VHS videocassettes in late 1979. The company later expanded its line to include additional titles throughout 1979 and 1980.
The company launched in the United States with twenty films on Betamax and VHS videocassettes in late 1979. The company later expanded its line to include additional titles throughout 1979 and 1980.
Some of the company's early releases were time-compressed in order to save tape time and money and to compensate for long-playing cassettes being unavailable in the early days of home video. One example was 1978's Superman in which the film was released in a 127-minute format, compared to its 143-minute theatrical release. In addition, early film-to-video transfers of films from WCI were noted for being in poor quality, compared to modern day video releases. By the end of 1980, the quality of transfers had improved.
The company was noted in its early days for releases in big cardboard boxes that opened like a book, colored in black, with cast credits on the inside. Some early releases under the Warner Home Video name also used this design. In early 1981, the company switched to plastic clamshell cases, with a multicolor design, with a few releases using the cardboard boxes and the multicolor designs, and to cardboard sleeves in 1985 for packaging, eliminating plastic cases by 1986. In the mid 1990s, the studio revived the use of plastic cases for a handful of releases from Warner Bros. Family Entertainment.
Warner Bros. began to branch out into the videodisc market, licensing titles to MCA DiscoVision and RCA's SelectaVision videodisc formats, allowing both companies to market and distribute the films under their labels. By 1985, Warner was releasing material under their own label in both formats. Titles from Warner Home Video were and continue to be distributed and manufactured by Roadshow Home Video worldwide except for Australia and New Zealand because of its film counterpart's films released by Village Roadshow.
Warner also experimented with the "rental-only" market for videos, a method also used by 20th Century Fox for their first release of Star Wars in 1982. Two known films released in this manner were Superman II and Excalibur. Other films released for rental use include Dirty Harry, The Enforcer, Prince of the City, and Sharky's Machine.
In 1990, Warner Home Video acquired the worldwide home video rights to the MGM/UA catalog. The $125 million purchase was used to finance MGM/UA's acquisition by the Pathé Communications Corporation. The intended 12½-year-long deal was cut short in February 2000, with MGM paying Warner Bros. $225 million to regain video rights to a number of its films. In exchange, Warner Bros. gained full control over the video rights to MGM's pre-1986 library, an asset the studio acquired outright from Turner, but due to a pre-existing licensing deal with MGM, was expected to expire in 2001.
With the merger of Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting in 1996, Turner Home Entertainment was absorbed into WHV, with WHV inheriting Turner's video lines, including a previous deal with PBS Home Video and Cartoon Network video titles. WHV also eventually absorbed HBO Home Entertainment by the mid-2000s, after that division switched from mostly distributing third-party titles to HBO's own material. In 1996, Time Warner transferred its WarnerVision Entertainment label from WEA to the company, after president Stuart Hersch had tried to buy back the label.
On December 20, 1996, Warner Home Video was one of the first major American distributors for the then-new DVD format, by releasing the films Assassins, Blade Runner: Director's Cut, Eraser, and The Fugitive on DVD in Japan and on March 24, 1997, in the United States with Blade Runner also being a launch title for the region there. Warner Bros. executive Warren Lieberfarb is often seen as "the father of DVD". Lieberfarb's successor, Warner Bros. executive James F. Cardwell was recognized in paving the way for WHV's strategic positioning in next generation technologies such as High Definition DVD, electronic sell-through and portable video. In 2003, Warner Home Video became the first home video releasing company to release movies only on DVD with no VHS equivalent.
On September 26, 2006, Warner Home Video became the first company to release a title in three formats on the same day and date with the home release of The Lake House on DVD, Blu-ray and HD DVD. With Paramount Home Entertainment switching from neutral in the high definition video camp to solely to HD DVD in September 2007, Warner Home Video was at the time the only major distributor to support both high definition formats, though this changed at the end of May 2008. From June 2008, Warner Home Video released new high definition content on Blu-ray only, becoming the last major Hollywood studio to drop HD DVD after Toshiba discontinued the HD DVD format.
In 2008, once its parent company became a unit of Warner Bros., New Line Home Entertainment was then folded into Warner Home Video. Warner Home Video, however, continued to use the NLHE logo on Blu-ray and DVD reprints on titles before Valentine's Day. But as of 2019, new releases of the said catalog use the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment logo.
In 2009, Warner Home Video introduced the Warner Archive Collection, which allows the public to order custom-made DVDs of rarely seen films and TV series from the Warner and Turner libraries. The films are also available as digital downloads. Warner Archive DVDs and downloads can be ordered online on Warner's website, on Amazon.com or Turner Classic Movies-affiliated DVD website Movies Unlimited. (Although Movies Unlimited sells these archive titles, it usually takes 2–3 months before the DVD is available for order after Warner releases it on their website.)
In October 2012, Paramount Home Media Distribution and Warner Home Video signed a distribution deal, allowing Warner Bros. to gain U.S. and Canadian DVD, Blu-ray, UltraViolet, Flixster, and DVD-manufacturing-on-demand distribution rights to over 600 Paramount Pictures titles as well as new Paramount titles. The deal went into effect on January 1, 2013, and expired in 2017.
On January 1, 2015, the company replaced Cinedigm in distribution of content from WWE Libraries in a deal with WWE, including content from former corporate sibling World Championship Wrestling.
On January 14, 2020, Universal and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced that they would partner on a 10-year multinational joint-venture, merging their physical operations in North America. Universal will distribute Warner Bros.' titles in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan; while Warner will distribute Universal's titles in the UK, Italy and Benelux. On April 7, 2020, the European Commission approved the merger. The company was later named Studio Distribution Services, LLC. Starting with the DVD release of the first season of the Animaniacs revival on June 1, 2021, the SDS logo had taken the WBHE logo's place on the home releases' back covers; while the Warner Archive releases, and certain Ultra HD Blu-ray releases such as Reminiscence, The Outsiders: The Complete Novel, Cry Macho and The Many Saints of Newark use the WB logo instead.
The company currently releases titles from the film and television library of Warner Bros. as well as programs from other WarnerMedia companies, including WarnerMedia Studios & Networks, WarnerMedia News & Sports, HBO, New Line Cinema, DC Comics, Telepictures, Hanna-Barbera, Cartoon Network and Turner Entertainment (notably the acquired pre-1986 MGM film library).
Currently in North America, distribution is handled by Studio Distribution Services, LLC., a joint venture between WBHE and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Since 2016, WBHE also licenses certain titles, many are catalog, independent and arthouse films such as Barry Lyndon, Dreams & Blowup to The Criterion Collection.
WBHE currently has North American distribution deals with Samuel Goldwyn Productions, Viz Media, and WWE.
In 1981, it signed a deal with NBC Enterprises to release its titles under the NBC Home Video label.
From July 1, 2000, to 2017, Warner Home Video served as distributor of BBC Video releases in North America. Starting in 2017, the BBC began self-distributing its titles in North America although the WHV logo is phased out on BBC titles on-screen since 2007. Warner Home Video formerly distributed titles from PBS Home Video and PBS Kids until 2004 (when video distribution moved to Paramount Home Entertainment), Big Idea Productions from 2002 to 2004 (when video distribution moved to Sony Wonder), Lifetime in the mid-2000s (despite being partly owned by Warner's archrival Disney), LeapFrog from 2003 to 2005 (when video distribution moved to Lionsgate), The Wiggles from 2007 until 2011 (when video distribution moved to NCircle Entertainment), Sesame Street from 2010 to 2018 (when distribution moved to Shout! Factory), American Girl, National Geographic Society in the U.S., and product from the NBA, the NFL, and the NHL.
In Canada, it previously distributed releases from Seville Pictures and Equinox Films.
In 1981, Warner Home Video released United Artists titles on video overseas. This deal was extended up to 2000 via its deal with MGM-Pathe. After Sony and Disney's 20th Century Studios Home Entertainment with MGM Home Entertainment deals expired last June 30, 2020, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment returns as a current distributor of some MGM libraries in physical home media since July 1, 2020, including post-April 1986 and pre-United Artists Releasing films, since WB already owns the rights for pre-May 1986 MGM library through Turner Entertainment's ownership.
Dualstar and Warner Bros. had an outstanding relationship, they distributed its titles under the Dualstar Video and Dualstar DVD labels.
Since 1999, Warner Home Video owns worldwide rights to a part of the Hong Kong film studio, Golden Harvest's film library after founder Raymond Chow sold its film rights to Warner Bros. for US$25 million.
Alongside the announcement of the Warner Bros./Universal NA physical home media joint-venture, Warner Bros. announced that they would begin handling home video distribution of Universal titles in the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in the first quarter of 2021, while Universal announced that they would begin handling home video distribution of Warner Bros. titles in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan in the third quarter of 2020.
From 1999, Warner Home Video distributed select Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax films on DVD in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Benelux, and Sweden under license from Buena Vista Home Entertainment. This deal ended in 2002 after Disney started self-distributing its own films on DVD. Despite the deal, no WHV logos are shown on-screen. Ironically in early 2020, Disney took over distribution of Warner titles in Spain after the latter company's purchase of 20th Century Fox which served as the Spanish distributor of WHV products beginning in 2016.
In the United Kingdom, Warner Home Video formerly distributed most of the VHS and DVD releases of Icon Home Entertainment, and also distributed Icon releases in Australia until 2006, when Icon started self-distributing their releases. as well as titles from Le Studio Canal+'s catalog in the 1990s to the early 2000s through the Canal+ Image label. In 2021, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will distribute home media releases of Pathé's film library in the UK and Ireland (except certain films in the French division such as Benedetta), taking over from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (similar to the deal when WBHE started distributing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's post-1986 catalog). The deal does not extend to Pathé's French division. Warner Home Video also distributed Redbus Film Distribution titles since 1999 which in turn became Lionsgate UK in 2006. Since March 22, 2021, Warner is the distributor of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment products in the country (including Entertainment One and Sky Cinema titles).
In France, Warner Home Video currently serves as the distributor of DVD and Blu-ray releases by Wild Bunch's Wild Side Vidéo unit since 2012 replacing Universal as well as titles issued by M6 Vidéo, and France TV (until 2007 when distribution moved to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). Since 2021, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment assumed French home media distribution duties to most of Studio Ghibli titles through their ongoing home media distribution deal with Wild Bunch.
In Germany, Warner Home Video used to distribute films by Splendid Film until mid-2010, when Splendid started self-distributing in the country.
In Italy, Warner served as the distributor for newer releases by Medusa Film starting in 2012 until 2021, when Eagle Home Video took over distribution of their releases on home video, as well as 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment titles from 2016 to 2020, when distribution moved to Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, and currently serves as the distributor of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment titles starting in 2021.
In Spain, Warner Home Video served as the distributor of U-Films titles in the early 1990s, Lolafilms from 2001 to 2006 (excluding Oldboy which has been released by Paramount Home Entertainment in July 2005 for DVD; in 2011 Warner re-released the title via Vertice Cine) when distribution transferred to DeAPlaneta Home Entertainment and Notro Films from 2006 to 2009, Amazing Films from 2007 to 2009, Manga Films/Vértice Cine from 2007 to 2014, when the distribution of the latter one transferred to Divisa Home Video (and later on Karma Films since 2019) and Winds of Asia from late 2000s to 2011 when distribution transferred to Cameo Media. Warner Home Video also served as the distributor of Filmax titles from late 2010 to mid-2016. After Filmax ended their deal with Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment started taking over Universal's titles in the country. When 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (later Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) took over distributing Warner titles in the country, Filmax entered into an agreement with Divisa Home Video to release their upcoming titles on home video. Since March 2020, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment handles the distribution of Warner material in the country.
In Poland, Warner Home Video served as the distributor of most Warner Bros. and Turner Entertainment movies on VHS and DVD from 1993 to 2007, before being closed. Since 2007, Warner Bros.' home video distribution in Poland is being handled by local distributor Galapagos Films, Inc.
In 1996, Warner Home Video had reached a deal on releasing Twister, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Maverick, The Fugitive and three Batman films in China through Shenzen Advanced Science Enterprise Group. In 2005, Warner Home Video also operated a joint venture distribution unit in China with China Audio Video (CAV) known as CAV Warner Home Entertainment to distribute Warner Bros.' films along with Universal & Paramount titles in Region 6 DVD format in China.
In Singapore, Warner Home Video, alongside Warner Bros.' content, also formerly served as the distributor of titles acquired, produced and/or distributed by Golden Village and Shaw Organisation beginning 1999. Since then, they started self-distributing their output. As of 2017, Poh Kim Corporation Pte. Ltd started handling distribution of WHV product in Singapore.
In Australia, Warner Bros.' films and WHV output are distributed through Roadshow Entertainment, which also served as the Australian theatrical distributor of Warner Bros. films until September 2020 when Universal Pictures took over as theatrical distributor beginning in 2021.
Previously, Warner Home Video's output is distributed through various local distributors in East and Southeast Asia such as Deltamac in Hong Kong and Taiwan, CVD International in Thailand, Movie Magic Sdn. Bhd. in Malaysia, Studio World in the Philippines and Vision Home Entertainment in Indonesia.