Warner Shelves "Total HD" Hybrid Disc Plans

Posted Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 10:47 AM PST by
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Speaking exclusively with High-Def Digest, Warner Home Entertainment says its previously announced HD DVD/Blu-ray hybrid disc won't be hitting stores anytime soon.

As we've previously reported, the studio made a splash when it unveiled Total HD earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, proposing it to the industry and consumers alike as a solution to the ongoing format war. Containing a Blu-ray layer on one side of the disc and an HD DVD layer on the other, the studio said the hybrid disc would retail for little more than a single-format title, and that it planned to have its first releases in stores by the second half of the year.

Roughly six months later, Warner announced it was pushing back its launch plans for Total HD until early 2008, but said it remained committed to the concept, promising ten to twenty launch titles upon the format's eventual release.

Though the studio had since remained mum on the status of its plans for the hybrid format, a Warner exec has now confirmed to High-Def Digest that all current plans for Total HD have been shelved in response to a perceived shift in retailer needs following Paramount's move to HD DVD exclusivity.

"The short answer is, for the moment, it [Total HD] is on hold," explained Jim Noonan, SVP of Strategic Promotion and Communication for Warner Home Entertainment Group. "We're the only studio producing content in both formats. If we were to put out Total HD with just our titles, it wouldn't really provide the solution to our retail partners that it was intended to provide. If anything, at this point, it would further complicate their life, because there would be another product looking for shelf space. Our job is not to further complicate the lives of our retailers."

As for the possibility that Total HD might still see the light of day should other studios go format-neutral, Noonan certainly didn't rule it out.

"Total HD was something that we offered up to the industry as a solution that would address buyer hesitancy, and the concern a consumer might have about the possible obsolesce of the hardware they were buying. We have no proprietary interest in Total HD. There is no patent we're involved in, and there is no monetary reward for us if another studio decides to put out titles on Total HD. It was offered purely as an industry solution -- and it is still a good and viable solution that has no expiration date."

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Tags: Warner, Total HD, Industry Trends (all tags)