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Warner Home Video (1978)

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Warner Home Video is the home video unit of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., itself part of Time Warner. It was founded in 1978 as WCI Home Video . The company launched in the United States with twenty films on VHS and Betamax videocassettes in late 1979. The company later expanded its line to include additional titles throughout 1979 and 1980.

It was re-named Warner Home Video in 1980. Though some other Hollywood movie studios changed their "Home Video" units' names to "Home Entertainment" with the advent of DVD in the late 1990s, Warner Home Video's name has not changed as of 2011. This may cause major confusion, as VHS is no longer in existence.


Some 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 late 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 Entertainment in 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.

 Notable firsts, Warner Archive Collection and Distribution
After Ted Turner's Turner Broadcasting System merged with Time Warner in 1996, Warner Home Video began distributing the pre-1986 MGM library from MGM/UA Home Video, and the Turner Home Entertainment label was folded into WHV, and has since expanded to distribute PBS Home Video releases.

In 1997, Warner Home Video was one of the first major American distributors for the new DVD format, by releasing Twister on DVD. Warner executive Warren Lieberfarb is often seen as "the father of DVD". Lieberfarb's successor, Warner Executive James Cardwell was recognized in paving the way for WHV’s strategic positioning in next generation technologies such as High Definition DVD, electronic sell-though and portable video.

In 2000, Warner Home Video was given the North America distribution rights for BBC Video titles, whereas previously they were distributed by CBS/Fox Video from 1984 to 1999. Many CBS/Fox releases of BBC Video titles were reissued under the WHV label, first on VHS and now DVD. This partnership between Warner Home Video and BBC Video continues to this day.

In 2003, Warner Home Video became the first home video releasing company ever to release movies only on DVD and have its movies have no VHS releases.

In 2006, Warner Home Video announced they would enter the market of releasing original direct-to-video films, a market that has proven lucrative for studios over the past few years, and which has for the most part been dominated by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. They announced much of their output would be followups to films that had done well at the box office theatrically, but wouldn't be expected to do well if a sequel were to be made. The first release under the Warner Premiere banner is the prequel The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning.

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 now 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, because of Toshiba discontinuing the HD DVD format, becoming the last major Hollywood studio to drop HD DVD.

Also, in early 2008, WHV purchased the rights to the Peanuts DVDs from Paramount beginning with Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown.

On December 17, 2008, the anime company Viz Media announced that on April 1, 2009 Warner Home Video will handle the distribution of both its new and existing catalog releases. Viz would still be the licensor and will do all production on their anime. Viz President and CEO Hidemi Fukuhara stated that he believes the partnership will help the company grow its anime holdings more effectively.

Also, they were the distributor for PBS until they sold the rights to Paramount's home video division.

Since New Line Cinema became the division of Warner Bros. in 2008, Warner Home Video will distribute its films on DVD and Blu-ray via its home video arm. Previously, Alliance Films was the distributor for New Line films in Canada.

Also, for a number of years from the 1980s to the late 1990s, Warner Home Video was the distributor for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (especially its pre-1986 film and TV library) video titles.

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 Warners releases it on their website.)

In 2010, after former distributer Genius Products was folded into Vivendi Entertainment, Warner Home Video became the new distributor of the Sesame Workshop library, including Sesame Street.

Recently, Warner acquired the home video rights to select catalog titles from 20th Century Fox and Largo Home Entertainment, including Point Break.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Warner Home Video", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.