The dual-format high-def disc is on hold indefinitely

Early this year during CES 2007, Warner unveiled its possible solution for the ongoing high-definition format war: a disc that would be playable on both HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc players. The dual format disc, called Total HD, was heralded as solution to customer confusion over the current format war.

Originally slated for a second-half 2007 release, Warner revealed in June that its Total HD product would be delayed until 2008. During that time, Warner senior VP of marketing management Steve Nickerson assured customers that the state of Total HD was not in jeopardy, and that movies were on the way. “There is no expiration date on the viability of this concept, so we’re not in a rush to do it,” Nickerson said. “We’ll do it when it makes sense and when it's right.”

In September, Warner Home Video president Ron Sanders expressed less optimism for the format’s viability in the market. “We’re concerned that as the only one publishing on it, it would be hard to make it go. We’re still looking at, though. We’re still talking to retail, but it’s kind of on hold right now,” said Sanders.

With Paramount and DreamWorks now releasing high-definition movies only on HD DVD, the sudden utility of a dual-format disc now applies only to Warner’s own releases. As a result, the movie studio has even fewer reasons to move Total HD to the market.

The latest update on the status of Total HD comes from Jim Noonan, a SVP at Warner Home Entertainment Group, who said to High-Def Digest, “The short answer is, for the moment, it [Total HD] is on hold,” citing retailer resistance to the idea of carrying yet another different colored box.

Apparently, Warner’s own catalog isn’t reason enough to go forward with Total HD. “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,” explained Noonan. “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."

Noonan added that Warner has no proprietary or monetary interest in Total HD, and that the technology “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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