Premiere Web effort

Singer developing live-action sci-fi thriller

Warner Premiere, the production arm of Warner Home Video, is branching out into live-action webisodes with help from "Superman Returns" director Bryan Singer.

Premiere is in discussions with the helmer's Bad Hat Harry Prods. to develop the apocalyptic sci-fi thriller "H+," with the intent to supplement Premiere's roster of direct-to-DVD titles with a slate of original programs intended for digital platforms.

While Premiere's previous efforts on DVD and digital are mostly based on existing intellectual property, "H+" represents an attempt to introduce new material.

"We knew from the beginning of setting up Warner Premiere that digital would be a big emphasis for us," Premiere president Diane Nelson said. "The best way to get learnings for the studio to act on in the future is to dabble in a lot of different things now."

On the digital front, Premiere has released so-called "motion comics" based on existing franchises "Batman," "Peanuts" and "Watchmen," and more will come, including a "Superman"-branded release. But the animated fare will begin to be balanced with live-action fare including "H+" that could bring Premiere's digital slate to more than 20 projects during the next 12 months.

"H+" centers on the aftermath of an act of cyber terrorism that kills off a segment of the world population who elected to hardwire their brains to the Internet.

The executive producers and writers are John Cabrera and Cosimo De Tommaso, who are repped by UTA Online and manager Adam Griffin at Kritzer/Levine/Wilkins Entertainment. They first pitched the project to Bad Hat as a TV series but were persuaded to convert it to a digital-friendly format with help from Lydia Antonini, director of digital development at Premiere.

Still early in development, the distribution strategy, episode total and length has not been determined, though "H+" should roll out before the end of 2009. (partialdiff)