The ‘Halo’ Drama Hashed Out

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Personally I couldn’t care less if a movie based on Microsoft’s hit Xbox game “Halo” ever gets made. I have actually never even held an Xbox controller and only seen about five minutes of game play. I don’t subscribe to the idea of buying multiple systems, which achieve the same goal. This is sort of my quandary with the current state of HD DVD vs. Blu-ray, but PlayStation 3 will solve that problem since I am a PlayStation kind of guy and that system will solve my Blu-ray problem, even if I don’t see watching Blu-ray videos on a gaming system a satisfying solution much like how watching DVDs on PlayStation 2 was not exactly ever an option I chose to explore.

Anyway, “Halo”, we have all heard the news about Universal and Fox dropping off the pic as co-financiers. The two studios were going to offer the videogame adaptation a $128 million budget, which in turn got the film made and gave Microsoft and the pic’s producers a collective gross around a reported 19%, which, as Variety says is a significant number for any film with no stars and a first-time director (Neill Blomkamp).

When all this came down on October 20 I wondered if the drop out was due to budget, script or even the director and while the news reported budget to be a major problem, as it was reported to be blossoming north of $145 million, I think it is a mixture of all things. Microsoft and tons of Internet well-wishers think that the simple fact that Peter Jackson and his producing partner Fran Walsh are aboard that things will somehow work themselves out. Hell, only two days after the news hit the fan Microsoft made a small, hardly noticeable, statement via franchise creator, Bungie Studios, on their website saying:

…the Halo franchise is hugely popular and our goal remains the same – to find a partner that shares our passion and will creatively collaborate with us to best represent the story and spirit of the Halo franchise. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and the rest of the creative team are dedicated to ensuring the Halo movie becomes a reality. We are already in discussions with potential partners who recognize the value of the Halo brand and its appeal to consumers worldwide.

I took this statement and placed it in the context of early news from June 2005 when Variety reported that the Alex Garland Halo script was “met with a lukewarm, underwhelming response from DreamWorks, New Line, Warner Bros. and most other studios that read it.” Taking that into consideration how does Microsoft think this is all going to work out? You will notice Sony is not in that quote, obviously they aren’t going to be making a movie that will benefit the PlayStation’s rival gaming system. Variety offers up reasons why other studios are less likely to get involved:

Microsoft’s rivalry with Apple made Disney a difficult fit, because Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the Mouse’s largest individual shareholder and a Disney board member.

New Line is still engaged in a dispute with “Halo” producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh over The Lord of the Rings proceeds.

“Halo” producers and Microsoft have concentrated their efforts this week on Warner Bros. and Paramount, because of baggage involving the rest, [and] though Par-based DreamWorks head Stacey Snider ran Universal when the original “Halo” deal was made and brought Jackson and Walsh aboard as producers, WB was the studio most intrigued by “Halo.” But WB and its financing partners are coming off a tough year, and they’ve so far balked at the deal terms proposed by the “Halo” team, sources said.

So, what to do? There is speculation that Microsoft will search out private financing or even finance the pic themselves. Hmmmm, now there is an idea. How much is Microsoft worth and they can’t seem to drum up $125 million? Obviously this isn’t the problem. Microsoft and any filmmaker would love big studio financing and name recognition attached to their film. “Halo” will have no problem attracting gamers to their film, but a studio logo helps in attracting those that might not be so quick to jump aboard a movie based on a videogame. It seems silly, but having Warner Bros. name attached to your film and involved in the marketing helps a lot!

So Microsoft forges ahead. WETA continues the preproduction process and Variety tells us that the Alex Garland script has already been rewritten by Ender’s Game scribe D.B Weiss and will get another rewrite by A History of Violence scribe Josh Olson, sources said. It seems as if they are doing the right thing and getting the pieces in place. We will just have to wait and see what happens next. Who knows, maybe even Universal or Fox will come back to the project.

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Weekend: Sep. 27, 2018, Sep. 30, 2018

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