If last week’s news of a direct-to-DVD A Christmas Story sequel had you wondering for the millionth time just who in the hell watches this crap, the answer, it turns out, is no one. (Well, Germain’s confession that he’d totally veg out to A Christmas Story 2 if it were in reruns on TBS notwithstanding.) And as such, Warner Bros.’ direct-to-video arm Warner Premiere is shutting down. In a statement announcing the shutdown, the studio cited the decline of the DVD market as the cause. More details after the jump.

The label was launched in 2006 as a way to capitalize on the booming straight-to-video trend with franchise spinoffs and sequels created specifically for the home market. More recently, however, the division has struggled due to the overall downturn in DVD sales. Warner Premiere’s various projects will now be folded into other units, including Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, and Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video. Warner Premiere’s staff — which numbers in the single digits — will mostly be absorbed into other divisions as well.

“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. “The division will continue and complete production on its remaining film and digital series project into the Fall.” (Which means we’ll still be getting that A Christmas Story 2, so hooray for that.)

The first project ever produced under the Warner Premiere banner was the $5 million prequel The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning. Other titles churned out over the past few years include Return to House on Haunted Hill, Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd: Out of ControlAnother Cinderella Story, and Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective.

Silly as some of those titles sound, Warner Premiere’s output hasn’t been all bad. One of their most recent high-profile projects is the Bryan Singer-produced web series H+, which will now be taken over by Warner Digital. And direct-to-DVD projects are where a lot of filmmakers and actors get their starts, so if the decline of that market makes it that much tougher for fresh talents to break into the biz, that’s a shame. On the other hand, I’m not particularly going to miss digging past Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove and Lost Boys: The Tribe at the CVS bargain bin.

[Sources: THR, The Wrap]

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