Today Variety announced that both Universal and Fox dropped out of financing the feature adaptation of Microsoft’s popular XBox game Halo. The studios had agreed to co-finance the pic with reported concerns related to the inflating budget that is apparently rising over the original projection of $135 million. It also goes on to say that Uni and Fox were also unsuccessful in trying to get the filmmakers and Microsoft to reduce their profit participation. The details of the original agreement had Microsoft receiving an upfront payment of $5 million on October 15, but that was not to be as that was the studios’ deadline to renegotiate the agreement. Microsoft was also supposed to be receiving 10% gross for the rights to the game and the Alex Garland script.
I know movies are all about money first, entertainment second, and the rumors of the increasing price tag were denied by reps of producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh saying the only figure ever discussed “was $145 million less the 12.5% rebate that you get from shooting in New Zealand, which would put it at about $128 million.” This raises the obvious conclusion… your script is no good!
There was an early script review online that hailed the script as five stars calling it “…a balls to the wall unapologetic, ruthlessly ultra-violent war movie â€“ and it’s cool as hell…” Gotta say, I don’t think the studios are feeling the same.
Let’s look at this a little closer.
Universal had a recent videogame adaptation called Doom, you may have heard of it. You may have also heard how bad this movie was. The script was horrendous and simply a reason to get hardcore gaming fans into theaters and spend a little dough. I have no problem with this, I didn’t like the movie but I think “Doom” gamers had their fun and that is what it is about. However, with a production price reportedly around $60 million and a box-office take of $28.2 million I don’t think we can call this a success.
Fox recently released a little film called Alien vs. Predator, you probably heard of that one too. There is no doubt this script was no good, but it provided enough Alien and Predator madness that fans went to see it and it actually did quite well at the box-office considering its $60 million production budget as it brought in $80.2 million domestically. With DVD sales, toys and the like I would call this a major success and good reason for a sequel. Once again, this script sucked.
So, we have two studios willing to distribute shitty scripts for movies we can easily relate to “Halo,” a movie I can’t see more people being excited about than were excited about AVP. Considering the price tag for AVP was less than half of what producers are saying Halo will cost I can totally understand Uni and Fox dropping the project, especially if the script is shit and they don’t anticipate it having the potential for $100 million at the box.
On top of all this the producers attach first time feature film director Neill Blomkamp to the pic? Yeah, the guys has made some cool short films, but handing over a $125+ million film to this guy is probably not in the studios’ best interest.
Halo‘s future depends primarily on the fact that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are on board as producers, but all the negative things that have surrounded this flick, the loss of Uni and Fox and the involvement of a first-time director are really going to hinder the production. We will have to wait and see if Halo has any future.