One of the most controversial early home video releasing companies to which The Rule of First Adopters didn't apply, Warner Home Video started out as the video releasing division of Warner-Elektra-Atlantic, dedicated to releasing the Warner Bros. library on videocassette. Under the name WCI Home Video (as in Warner Communications, Inc.), the company was founded in late 1979 and released its first tapes, including an independent's Chinese culinary how-to video, in January of the following year. The name was changed to its familiar form before the company was a year old; however, they still used the WCI name on the videograms until midway through 1981.
The company attracted controversy that year when they started a rental program which took effect on October 15. Starting on that day, all Warner tapes would be offered for rental only in selected markets. Texas was the first to sign on to the program, followed by San Francisco and Denver, then Oklahoma and Louisiana, among other territories. Many video dealers opposed the plan, and Queen was also a vocal opponent; the rental program caused Queen to gradually switch its American label affiliation from WEA to EMI, starting with the contested product, Queen: Greatest Flix. It was the first Queen product EMI would release in America. It was because of this opposition that Warner's rental program didn't last more than a year, and the damage had largely been done to rental-only for the foreseeable future; the year 1983 started with all the other rental programs, by Disney, MGM/UA, and 20th Century-Fox, having already been largely terminated.
Also of note is that early videograms were sometimes sped up to fit tapes of a certain length. Superman: The Movie is the poster child of this practice, though with all dialogue scenes presented at the correct speed, it was lucky compared to most of the other affected titles. Fortunately, the music was seldom, if ever, presented at a higher pitch as a result of the time compression going on, making Warner an early innovator in the art of efficient time compression (unfortunately, the same could not be said of its contemporaries, MGM/CBS Home Video and Walt Disney Telecommunications and Non-Theatrical Company).
Warner Bros. and WEA titles, of course, weren't the only product from Warner Home Video. There was also product from such entities as Orion Pictures (which had a joint venture with Warner Bros. that ran until 1982; most Orion product released before fall of that year is still owned by Warner to this day), Filmways Pictures, New World Pictures, The Ladd Company, New Line Cinema (over a decade before Warner's corporate parent Time Warner purchased the company, and just under three decades before it was merged into Warner Bros. itself), and NBC, among others. Warner Home Video currently releases DVDs and Blu-rays for outside companies including The BBC (North America only), Sesame Workshop, WWE (Wrestling content only, WWE Studios content is licensed by RLJ Entertainment), Viz Media, Mattel (most notably their American Girl made for TV and theatrical movies along with their Masters of the Universe theatrical movie), and select Paramount backlog titles, as well as sister WarnerMedia companies HBO, TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network.
In 1997, Warner became the first major studio to release motion pictures on DVD, with an initial batch of 33 titles (including MGM/UA Home Video titles, New Line titles, and a few music titles). For a time, certain early Warner DVDs were priced higher than retail at Best Buy locations due to a contract breach, according to the LaserRot fansite. They were also among the first, through sister studio WarnerVision Entertainment, to distribute the Power Rangers franchise on videocassette, taking over from PolyGram Video.
- 1001 Blazing Saddles (1974)
- 1002 The Green Berets (1968)The opening Warner Bros./Seven Arts logo is plastered by the then-current "Big W" logo, adding approximately 7 seconds to the running time.Sped up by just under 7% for a runtime of 2h12m42s without the above-mentioned logo plastering (as opposed to the original runtime of approximately 2h21m58s), to fit a 135-minute tape.Along with The Wild Bunch, one of the first official home video releases to use the Wilhelm scream.
- 1003 The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979)
- 1004 Deliverance (1972)
- 1005 East of Eden (1955)
- 1006 Enter the Dragon (1973)US theatrical version.The film wasn't sped up at all, running at the original length of approximately 1h38m53s despite the box and labels incorrectly giving a 90 minute running time.
- 1007 The Exorcist (1973)1979 theatrical version.
- 1008 Hooper (1978)
- 1009 The In-Laws (1979)
- 1010 Oh, God! (1977)
- 1011 Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
- 1012 The Searchers (1956)
- 1013 Superman: The Movie (1978)2nd edition, from Warner Home Video, is misrated R. All other editions, including the 1st edition from WCI Home Video, correctly give the MPAA rating as PG.Partially sped up in sequences without dialogue for a runtime of 2h4m13s (as opposed to the original runtime of approximately 2h23m16s) to fit a 127-minute tape.
- 1014 The Wild Bunch (1969)Theatrical version.Along with The Green Berets, one of the first official home video releases to use the Wilhelm scream.
- 1015 Woodstock I (1970)1st half of theatrical version.
- 1016 Woodstock II (1970)2nd half of theatrical version.
- 1017 Mister Roberts (1955)
- 1018 All the President's Men (1976)
- 1019 Dirty Harry (1971)Original "Kinney Shield" is plastered by a silent Warner Bros. Television Distribution "Big W" logo.
- 1020 A Star Is Born (1976)
- 1021 The Main Event (1979)
- 1022 The Candidate (1972)
- 1023 Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
- 1024 Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
- 1025 Executive Action (1973)
- 1026 Bonnie and Clyde (1967)Original sepia-toned WB shield is plastered by the "Big W" logo.
- 1027 Klute (1971)
- 1028 Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
- 1029 Bullitt (1968)Sped up by just over 8% for a runtime of 1h45m10s (as opposed to the original runtime of approximately 1h53m45s) to fit a 105-minute tape.
- 1030 Going in Style (1979)
- 1031 A Clockwork Orange (1971)
- 1032 Gilda Live (1980)
- 1033 Summer of '42 (1971)
- 1034 Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)
- 1035 The Prisoner Of Second Avenue (1975)
- 2003 Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
- 4001 Flavors of China (1977)
- 1039 Magnum Force (1973)Sped up by just under 1% for a runtime of 2h1m24s (as opposed to the original runtime of approximately 2h2m33s), to fit a 120-minute tape
- 1040 Billy Jack (1971)
- 1041 What's Up, Doc? (1972)
- 1042 Tom Horn (1980)
- 1043 Honeysuckle Rose (1980)
- 1044 Oh God Book II (1980)
- 1045 One Trick Pony (1980)
- 2005 Caddyshack (1980)
From this point onward, the stock numbers had five digits instead of four.
- 11037 Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- 11047 A Star Is Born (1954)General release version in its original pressing.
- 11048 The Spirit Of St Louis (1957)
- 11050 Rio Bravo (1959)
- 22007 Simon (1980)Released during Orion Month in July 1981; one of the first releases to use the newer box art style, which Warner Home Video would continue to use for the first half of the decade
- 24029 Devo: The Men Who Make the Music (1979)Released in June 1981; one of the last releases to use the old black box style
- 24030 Dire Straits: Making Movies (1980)Released in June 1981; one of the last releases to use the old black box style
- 24034 The Story Of Adele H (1975)
- 34004 Queen: Greatest Flix (1981)Ultimately released by Thorn EMI Video due to a dispute between Queen and their North American label over how the release of this video would be handled.
- 11222 The Looney Tunes Video Show #3 (1982)Some of the Looney Tunes cartoons at this point were instead distributed on video by MGM/CBS Home Video.Contains the cartoons Quacker Tracker (1967), Double or Mutton (1955), Feline Frame-Up (1954), 8 Ball Bunny (1950), A Fractured Leghorn (1950), Scaredy Cat (1948) and Louvre Come Back to Me! (1962).Tape label incorrectly states the running time as 38 minutes. 1989 reissue gives the correct running time of 48 minutes.
- 19217 Casablanca (1942)Only released in Canada and international territories; distributed by Magnetic Video in the United States.The 1982 UA logo's music plays over the warning scroll and the WHV logo.
- 19226 The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)Only released in Canada and international territories; distributed by Magnetic Video in the United States.
- Batman (1989)The screener, and some early retail copies, was printed at Rank Video Services America instead of at Technicolor Videocassette (Warner's usual duplication partner); some screener copies were recycled as retail copies of other Warner Home Video releases a bit later on, including Tango & Cash.This tape's program is as follows: a Batman Diet Coke commercial with Alfred, a Looney Tunes plug-in for the Warner Bros. catalog, the black-and-white F.B.I. warning screen, the 1985 Warner Home Video logo, and the film's Warner Bros. Pictures Vanity Plate, which goes into the opening credits.
- Pokemon The First Movie (1999)It starts off with the black-and-white F.B.I. warning screen, a preview for Warner Bros. Family Entertainment titles, a preview for "Switching Goals", a preview for "Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders", a preview for "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker", a soundtrack promo for "Pokemon The First Movie", a Kids' WB! plug in featuring various cartoons (including Pokemon, Tiny Toon Adventures, Men in Black the Series, Batman Beyond and Static Shock), the 1997 Warner Home Video logo, a aspect ratio screen, a introduction by Professor Oak, all 4 logos and a short cartoon.
- 1037 Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- 1046 Dial M for Murder (1954)Presented in 2D.
- 11170 Mad Max (1979)Released by American International Pictures and Vestron Video in the United States.
- 11172 Friday the 13th (1980)Released by Paramount in the United States.
- 11253 The Towering Inferno (1974)Released by 20th Century-Fox in the United States.
- 11358 In Praise Of Older Women (1977)Released by Avco Embassy Pictures Corporation and Magnetic Video in the United States.
- 11423 Black Emanuelle (1975)Released by Stirling Gold and Magnetic Video in the United States.
- 11512 Permission To Kill (1975)Released by Avco Embassy Pictures Corporation and Magnetic Video in the United States.
- 11737 The Possessed (1977)A Warner Bros. television movie released on videocassette by Unicorn Video in the United States.
- 12009 The Delinquents (1989)Not released in the United States due to legal problems with the production company.Said to be one of few videocassettes, if not the only one, with the Village Roadshow theatrical logo from the era.
- 19000 Simon & Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park (1982)Released by CBS Video Enterprises in the United States.
- 19001 Jane Fonda's Workout (1982)Released by RCA and Karl Video in the United States.
- 19002 Jane Fonda's Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery Workout (1983)Released by RCA and Karl Video in the United States.
- 19003 Jane Fonda's Workout Challenge (1984)Released by RCA and Karl Video in the United States.
- 19200 Moonraker (1979)
- 19201 The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
- 19202 42nd Street (1932)
- 19203 Live and Let Die (1973)
- 19204 The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
- 19205 Goldfinger (1964)
- 19206 Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
- 19207 You Only Live Twice (1967)
- 19208 Thunderball (1965)
- 19209 From Russia with Love (1963)
- 19210 Dr. No (1962)
- 19211 On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
- 19212 Octopussy (1983)
- 19425 Vigilante Force (1976)
- 19472 Go Tell The Spartans (1978)Released by Avco Embassy Pictures Corporation and Time-Life Video in the United States.
- 19476 Track Down (1976)
- 19497 Let It Be (1970)
- 19498 200 Motels (1971)
- 19499 Hickey And Boggs (1972)
- 19525 Windows (1980)
- 20008 Blade Runner (1982)Released by Embassy Home Entertainment in the United States.
- 22023 Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)Released by New World Pictures and Vestron Video in the United States.
- 34046 Halloween (1978)Released by Compass International Pictures and Media-Home Entertainment in the United States.
The first DVD releasesThis section covers the first 61 DVD releases in North America by Warner Home Video and associated labels, including Warner Reprise Video, New Line Home Video, MGM/UA Home Video, and HBO Home Video.
- Batman (1989)Released on March 25, 1997
- The Birdcage (1996)From United Artists CorporationReleased on March 25, 1997
- Blade Runner (1982)From The Ladd CompanyReleased on March 25, 1997Director's cut
- The Bodyguard (1992)Released on March 25, 1997
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)Released on March 25, 1997
- The Bridges of Madison County (1995)Released on March 25, 1997
- The Color Purple (1985)Released on March 25, 1997One of three films made with the involvement of Steven Spielberg, in this case as director, to be released on DVD during the early days of the format; Spielberg notoriously had an embargo in place for DVD releases of his films that remained in effect until late 1998
- Eraser (1996)Released on March 25, 1997
- Eric Clapton: Unplugged (1992)From Reprise RecordsReleased on March 24, 1997
- The Exorcist (1973)Released on March 25, 1997Theatrical versionOriginal "Big W" logo that started the film is intact
- The Fugitive (1993)Released on March 25, 1997
- Get Shorty (1995)From Metro-Goldwyn-MayerReleased on March 25, 1997
- The Glimmer Man (1996)Released on March 25, 1997
- GoldenEye (1995)From United Artists CorporationReleased on March 25, 1997
- Goodfellas (1990)Released on March 25, 1997
- Interview with the Vampire (1994)Released on March 25, 1997
- Lethal Weapon (1987)Released on March 25, 1997Theatrical version
- Madonna Live Down Under: The Girlie Show (1994)From Reprise RecordsReleased on March 24, 1997
- The Mask (1994)From New Line CinemaReleased on March 25, 1997
- Mortal Kombat (1995)From New Line CinemaReleased on March 25, 1997
- R.E.M.: Road Movie (1996)From Reprise RecordsReleased on March 24, 1997
- The Road Warrior (1983)Released on March 25, 1997Original "Big W" logo that started the film is intactThis release is generally accepted among videophiles to have the closest color grading out of any videodisc release to the original theatrical release
- Rocky (1976)From United Artists CorporationReleased on March 25, 1997
- Seven (1997)From New Line CinemaReleased on March 25, 1997
- Space Jam (1996)Released on March 25, 1997The newest film in the initial launch slate from Warner Home Video
- Species (1995)From Metro-Goldwyn-MayerReleased on March 25, 1997
- A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)Released on March 25, 1997Director's cut
- A Time to Kill (1996)Released on March 25, 1997Its VHS counterpart was the first release to use the then-new logo for Warner Home Video, which would go on to appear on all of its DVD releases for two decades
- Twister (1996)Released on March 25, 1997The first THX-certified DVD releaseOne of three films made with the involvement of Steven Spielberg, in this case as executive producer, to be released on DVD during the early days of the format; Spielberg notoriously had an embargo in place for DVD releases of his films that remained in effect until late 1998
- Unforgiven (1992)Released on March 25, 1997
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)From Turner EntertainmentReleased on March 25, 1997
- Woodstock (1970)Released on March 25, 1997Director's cut
- Batman Returns (1992)Released on April 29, 1997
- Disclosure (1994)Released on April 29, 1997
- Driving Miss Daisy (1989)Released on April 29, 1997
- JFK (1991)Released on April 8, 1997Director's cut
- The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)From New Line CinemaReleased on April 29, 1997
- Michael Collins (1996)Released on April 8, 1997
- Poltergeist (1982)From Turner EntertainmentReleased on April 8, 1997One of three films made with the involvement of Steven Spielberg, in this case as writer and producer (a contractual obligation prevented him from directing), to be released on DVD during the early days of the format; Spielberg notoriously had an embargo in place for DVD releases of his films that remained in effect until late 1998
- Sleepers (1996)Released on April 1, 1997
- Tin Cup (1996)Released on April 29, 1997
Warner Home Video provides an example
- Copy Protection: For several years beginning in 1986, they used Macrovision to prevent most of their their home video media from making a bootleg copy.
- Vanilla Edition: Their earliest DVD releases, particularly Blade Runner and Twister (the latter which at least had a theatrical trailer), were notorious for this.