Microsoft has remained steadfast in their declaration that there’s no rush to turn their $2 billion video-game franchise Halo into a movie. Yet, when a title like the recently released Halo: Reach grosses $200 million on its first day in stores, Hollywood is bound to take notice.
Although previous attempts to bring this lucrative property to the big-screen have been somewhat disastrous, Vulture is reporting that DreamWorks is interested in giving the Halo movie another shot. They’re also taking a slightly different approach to their adaptation in hopes of succeeding where other studios have failed.
Previously, Fox and Universal partnered to make a deal with Microsoft for the film rights. Peter Jackson was soon brought on as a producer and Neil Blomkamp was later hired to direct. A year later, enormous sums of money had been spent on development and the higher-ups at Fox called a meeting to express their concern over these costs as well as the gross-participation deals in place for Jackson, Microsoft, Jackson’s producing partner Fran Walsh, and original producer Peter Schlessel.
When these discussions failed to produce a satisfying resolution, Fox threatened to back out of the film. Universal became understandably nervous about footing the bill all by themselves and were forced to ask Jackson and the other producers to cut their deals – all of them refused.
When Fox refused to share the cost of the screenwriting and producing fees that had already been spent, Universal sued. A legal maelstrom began and that version of the Halo movie was history.
Another obstacle in getting the film made stems from Microsoft’s desire to control every aspect of the Halo franchise. They’re not interested in selling the rights and sitting back while someone produces a subpar adaptation that’s Halo in name only. They’d rather the film be an integrated and faithful extension of their brand that adheres to the franchise’s continuity and rules.
While this no doubt sounds like great news to fans of the games, you can imagine how restrictive such an arrangement might feel for a filmmaker – especially the sort of auteur a Halo movie probably requires if it’s truly going to work.
DreamWorks does have Steven Spielberg in their corner (it’s also not the first time Spielberg and Halo have been mentioned together) and as Vulture notes, if anyone has the authority to take control of the film and ease Microsoft’s concerns it’s him. But how exactly is DreamWorks going to sidestep all of the legal red tape and avoid getting sucked into the same bitter battle that Universal and Fox did?
Evidently, they’re not going to be adapting any of the games. Instead, DreamWorks is focusing on the Halo novels – a move that keeps them free and clear from any past deals. Interestingly, screenwriter Stuart Beattie at one point wrote a Halo: The Fall of Reach spec-script based on the novel of the same name, with the hopes of making it the first chapter in a trilogy.
Obviously DreamWorks would be starting from scratch and there’s no indication of which of the novels they’re looking at, but The Fall of Reach does seem like a logical starting point for a film series.
While Vulture refers to the tie-in novels as literary “PuppyChow”, many fans have been quick to point out that these books aren’t actually all that terrible. Shakespeare they’re not, but several of them could act as a perfectly serviceable template for a Halo movie.
However, this approach does contradict Microsoft’s desire to forgo using existing source material in favor of telling a brand new story set in the Halo universe. It should be interesting to see how this deal pans out so we’ll keep you updated as more details emerge.
In the meantime, let us hear your thoughts on this possible new direction for a Halo movie.