How The ‘Halo’ Movie Might Be Saved By ‘Forward Unto Dawn’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated May 21st, 2013 at 10:47 am,

Halo Movie Might Be Saved How The Halo Movie Might Be Saved By Forward Unto Dawn

For those who haven’t been keeping track of the on-again, off-again idea of a live-action Halo feature film, the new web series Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn may seem to have come right out of left field. But make no mistake: Microsoft isn’t developing a live-action, 9o-minute film following the Master Chief, among other key characters, just to make the launch of Halo 4 this November that much more grandiose.

The truth is, the time has never been better to push a Halo movie from dream to reality, with recent developments in the realm of young adult novels – and, subsequently, the proven success of those adaptations. The respective fan bases may not see eye-to-eye on science-fiction, but a Halo feature film – if done correctly – may have The Hunger Games to thank.

It may come as somewhat of a surprise that one of the most well-known and universally praised game franchises is having trouble finding a Hollywood studio ready to adapt it to the screen, but the road has been anything but smooth up to this point. The cost of such an undertaking led Fox and Universal to partner together (not a recipe for avoiding speed bumps) in trying to get a Peter Jackson-produced Halo feature film bankrolled in 2010. Fans may still lament the loss of a Halo film produced by the mind behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and directed by District 9‘s Neill Blomkamp. With Blomkamp now onto the higher-budget Elysium, that film’s science fiction action will remain a strong example of what might have been (especially given some intriguing similarities to the Halo franchise).

Nevertheless, the expenses outweighed the potential in the eyes of both studios. After the legal and financial mess was settled, one studio seemed to still be interested in the obvious potential of a feature-film set within the video game universe already responsible for close to $2 billion in sales. That foolhardy company was none other than DreamWorks Studios, with Steven Spielberg, a self-professed fan of video game fiction implied as possible executive producer.

Halo Neill Blomkamp Pelican How The Halo Movie Might Be Saved By Forward Unto Dawn

A UNSC Pelican Dropship from Niell Blomkamp’s 2007 Test Short

Their solution for avoiding the mess of turning a video game into a feature film without a budget escalating out of control? Turn to the Halo novels for source material, not one of the existing games. The novels, written by American novelist Eric Nylund (well enough to earn a job at Microsoft Games Studios, we might add) made the New York Times Bestseller list their stomping grounds, exploring the details and personal stories of the warriors largely omitted from the action-heavy realm of the games.

The then-reported plan was to use the first novel, ‘Halo: The Fall of Reach’ as a launching point for a trilogy, carving out a separate space from the games – similar to the novels themselves. The only problem? The novel in question follows the Master Chief, John-117, and fellow Spartan IIs long before the alien war and iconic armor that many still see as the heart of what makes Halo popular. Did we mention the fact that these soldiers are kidnapped from their parents and thrust into combat from the age of six?

Touchy subject matter if there ever was, which inevitably raised some doubts about the mass appeal that a possible film adaptation would have. Of course, that was back in 2010, before Suzanne Collins and a book series known as The Hunger Games were on the tongues of anyone with a computer or Kindle. While movie-goers and readers the world over made a tale of teenage violence and will to survive against imposing authority a sales juggernaut, you can bet Microsoft was paying close attention. Not just to see how science-fiction was once again inching farther into the mainstream, but to what this could mean for their most profitable first-party IP.

Halo Reach Characters Screenshot How The Halo Movie Might Be Saved By Forward Unto Dawn

‘Halo: Reach’ – Bungie’s last game, based on the events detailed in the novel

To truly understand what an alien-shooting space marine has in common with teens being forced into brutal combat against a backdrop of war, insurrection, young romance and the essence of human identity, a little context is needed. First and foremost, these are the exact same subjects which lie at the very heart of Halo. Following a group of young planetary colonists hand-picked for genetic modification and military training, ‘The Fall of Reach’ tells the tale of John-117 and his fellow recruits as they make their way from age six, to age fifteen then adulthood, facing the arrival of the Covenant on humanity’s doorstep.

The skill with which the potentially offensive material was executed in the book – and those that followed – meant the announcement of DreamWorks possibly adapting the novel to the big screen was met with immediate enthusiasm among fans, along with some confusion among the uninitiated. And yet, momentum has still been elusive.

So when Microsoft witnessed the sudden explosion of interest in a futuristic book series exploring child-on-child violence and military training, they had some serious questions to ask. It seems that rather than using the $660 million gross of The Hunger Games film as proof in studio negotiations, those at Microsoft decided to prove a point, and get things off the ground themselves. Enter Forward Unto Dawn.

Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn Poster1 How The Halo Movie Might Be Saved By Forward Unto Dawn

Microsoft has never relaxed its stance that a Halo feature film or mini-series will eventually happen, on the condition that they had control over its quality and direction. If that meant self-financing – shouldering the costs in anticipation of the greater profits that would, let’s be honest, be as close to a guarantee as possible – Microsoft would foot the bill. Of course, having a sample of what a Halo film or series could ultimately achieve, and the direction Microsoft would be willing to allow a director or studio to take, would go a long ways farther than just promises.

Since major Hollywood studios continue to misunderstand why certain video game properties resonate with audiences over others (read: DOOM, BloodRayne) the developers themselves have begun stepping up. Microsoft may have scared off studios by demanding control over their property on the big screen (and who could blame them), but Hollywood’s track record was the exact reason that Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft formed their own studio. And the decision is already paying off, with Michael Fassbender attached to appear in and produce the film.

Fans of Halo will already be aware of the company’s tendency to go all-out in advertising the more recent releases, garnering attention with their highly-polished live-action TV spots along with international accolades. While the shorter advertisements were required to focus on the atmosphere and action found in the game’s campaign, such a ‘style over substance’ approach wouldn’t fly for longer features – something Microsoft has shown they’re aware of. The visuals are impressive, but a two-hour long film based around nothing but gunfights and explosions wouldn’t be likely to attract any ambitious or well-respected directors (notice the lack of any Michael Bay reference).

Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn Full Trailer 570x281 How The Halo Movie Might Be Saved By Forward Unto Dawn

If Microsoft and DreamWorks have hopes for a strong, compelling and critically-praised film that kicks off an entire franchise, a serious amount of story and talent will be required. But could a Halo film built on a morally troubling tale of lost youth be meshed with the pyrotechnics and action that fans would have every right to expect? There’s only one way to find out.

Continue to Page 2 to see what Forward Unto Dawn has going for it…

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TAGS: Halo
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  1. Can’t wait for a full length Halo movie with good looking Aliens and effects around our Halo universe which has a great stoy line. Spartan IIs were taken and trained from age of 6 to originally stop civil war just to clear that, and IIIs were orphans as I supose from my sources.

    Next thing I wanted to comment about is the reason I started the comment anyway. Making the Halo movie “with a hint” of The Hunger Games/Twilight movie(Romance/sparkle) to get views from the young woman audince? I understand that you want to make profit and make it avaible(adding Hunger Games size romance is not to get all in, but to lure young women in and make us fans facepalm and get sad, and don’t continue on this anyway cause we are loyal to Halo series…) for most people.
    Just don’t go to far on the love part of a Halo movie which is about alien invasion(including “Halo rings” used by these aliens) and war. Take with female char, ofc! But don’t over do it with love and twilight sparkle. Take with. Cortana, female spartans and “dr. Catherine Halsey.” Make master chief the hero we know and love, and add know chars who made him come this far. Also about use of weapons, please use more many “Covernant” weapons too. Best of luck on developmet~

    • Agree!
      Also remember that the alteration of the Spartan II soldiers bodies effected the hormones as an side effect(according to the novels), making them less susceptible to love and sexuall instincts.

  2. Hey, Forward Unto Dawn was absolutely MIND BLOWING! they acting from Anna Popplewell was incredible, not to mention the elites looked PRIME. Master chief was a formidable character and has enough history to make 400 movies. If I were the person who had to make a halo movie I would charge everyone of those actors and directors to make it. everyone did a tremendous job and the chief (whom I expected to be a mess up) actually pulled off a great look and awesome lines. So yes, Halo needs to become a movie and it needs to be just as good if not better than Forward Unto Dawn.

    Btw: the energy sword you see the elite use is awesome!!!!!!

  3. I’ll see it in the movies 20 times if I have too to make Microsoft their money back! Please make a Halo Trilogy!!!!!!!!!

  4. man ill see it 100 times to pay microsoft their money back. i believe the movie will get enough fans trust me. people are on their knees waiting for a halo movie. forward unto dawn was amazing and ive seen it athousand times over. i love the chief and the characters. they were amazing. if microsoft dont hurry then their gonna lose this great chance they have. im waiting…..we’re all waiting

  5. Foward Unto Dawn was amazing!!!!!

    I’ve been hoping for a good series of halo movies to come out ever since Halo: Combat Evolved; I think with a little time and work, this movie and others like them(if made)could be the biggest movie(s) of the 21 centery. I look forward to keep following the posts and articals to see what great ideas and things that will happen following this movie

  6. They have to follow the the games the Halo is the key to it all!or what is the point….

  7. I dont really comment on things such as this let alone facebook, I’m a gamer at heart and ever since the first Halo (Halo: Combat Evolved) for original Xbox was one of the first, first person shooters I had ever played. I have never been a fan of the multiplayer expierence on live but the campaign is a different story, my dad used to be a Grand trismo fan and the CO-OP on Halo turned him a full 180 degrees and he was hooked. We have been up to date on all other Halo’s except ODST and Reach because it branchs off of the orginal storyline of the campaign on halo 1 2 3 and even the most recent 4 was great not quite what i had expected but non the less it was great way to continue with the series and i think 343 did a outstanding job for picking up where bungie left off. but then it comes to the movie I actually did not know they had even came out with a movie till recent end of march when i was looking through a red boox with my other, i never thought of them to come out with a movie i always thought it would be a good idea but i tell you what they did an amazing job with all of it, i m ean there was some flaws but im sure that is from the budget they were limited to use, the look of when the gril from narnia found the Carbine and when Master Chief followed through with the Magnum the Jackles being shot was very unrealistic but other than that everything else was astonishing and i believe that given the oppertunity to show what they ( 343 and Microsoft) can really do with a media film. I think its fair to say i speak for everybody that has seen the Halo film ( Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn) or fans of all halo games, and people that is not fans of the series that have seen the movie, THE MOVIE SERIES MUST GO ON, the way it has been left off is unacceptable and very unprofessional, they must keep the series going because there is alot of money to be made in that series. DreamWorks and Microsoft just give it a chance, and relize that i would say the first film making of halo was a positive outcome. 343 knows there is money to be made and so does microsoft i mean the halo series fanchise is up to billions of $$$ like its listed in this article, look at all the Halo preorders and gaming stores the films will be a major hit world wide!! Take this comment into consideration I would like to hear more from you.

    • Williams,AJ
      Reach and ODST aren’t really branch offs they started from the middle of the war so what bungle did was go back and show what led to those events as for ODST they wanted to show the struggles for a regular ODST or marine compared to a spartan and show their tactics or style and show their part of the story which if I’m not mistaken its not at all a branch because it takes place between time periods of halo2 and halo3 but I do agree with everyone saying that they should make a trilogy because halo has one of the highest sales rate on game sales which means bungie has a lot of fans that support them the unsc soldiers, Master chief, and halos stories whether its before or not I think they should pick off where they left I love halo I’ve played and beat everyone of the halo trilogy games so I’m a huge fan so I would love to watch the movies as well the forward unto dawn movie was spectacular and amazing every actor looked great and had great lines and as for the covenant just…amazing to pull off those kind of special effects just amazing it’s hard to do so but they pulled every inch of weapon shot and armor and etc off so best of luck to them making more movies I for one would pay to go see that

  8. found forward unto dawns acting to laughable
    switched off after i was able to stop my sides from splitting

  9. I am a Playstation fan but also love playing the xbox. i immediately got hooked when i first played the first halo and ever since ive wanted a film. “Forward until Dawn” shows to me that it is possible to make an amazing movie that will prolly be the best movie of the century. the technology is ready for it. Look at James Cameron’s “Avatar.” the visual effects were off the charts. i cant wait till they make an actual Hollywood film. the story line that i would love to see is how master chief becomes a super soldier and how the alien invasions and war begins. i think if they start out with this story they will be able to make many more awesome sequals to this. if they do make a halo film they will most likely need to make at least 4-5 other movies to continue the story (permitting if they get enough funds) because the story alone is massive.

  10. I am a fan of the game, also I did like what they put out for a promo for fans/also to see if there will be viewers.

    I’m no actor but I would go though all classes asked to get into this film even as a free actor for the first of Many movies that can come from this.

  11. I’m hoping for a new movie this movie was amazing I’m a huge fan of every halo movie from the covenants first attacks on reach to rings to chief and the soldiers ,the flood the covenant, and their newest leader who can forget the Arbitor and the brutes or the oracle from combat evolved to halo4 loved the multiplayer as well I loved all of halo just the mystical scenery and what not I hope there is a movie or I mean a trilogy to complete forward unto dawn they did amazing

  12. I have just watched the movie on Netflix. I am soooo hooked. My brother owns the halo reach and halo 4. I am planing on getting the books from the library. I really hope that they continue with the movies. A movie on Master Chef :). I am really looking forward to all movies to come. Gonna go watch the movie again :)

  13. Didn’t know there was a Halo 4 out, I came here looking for 2 and 3. I know of the game, but i’m more of a wing woman, (not good with controls, but good with strategy and puzzles) so i sit on the side of people who know how to press buttons. Anyway, I’ve had minimal experience with Halo and I thought it was positively the bomb. I got the first Halo movie, which was animated, but admittedly didn’t like it much, I appreciated the story, but it didn’t feed that hunger, for lack of a better word. However, Halo 4 was beautiful! Its been out for a year, and I can’t believe I just stumbled upon it. wow. anyway, just giving a shout.

  14. I do not even understand how I ended up here, but I believed this put
    up was once good. I don’t understand who you are however definitely you’re going to a famous
    blogger when you are not already. Cheers!

  15. Best film/teaser/intro/pilot/beginning I have ever seen. This is precisely what Hollywood is failing to do. A serious piece of work – as is Master Chief.

  16. i dont get it i only noticed this movie from netflix and after watching it i was amazed! I was desperately hoping for a sequel but the reality is movies that dont have much publicity arent going to have sequels due to the limited knowledge and fan base of this film. i love this movie so much but until halo 5 comes out the thought of a movie wont happen for years after and thats if it is even possible to make a movie from halo 5.

  17. Please just don’t try to do
    Too many things at once, I like Halo for the core of what it is as a story and the grim totality of war.
    Don’t go too far with the romance but I do want to know the core and meaning of what Spartans are.
    I liked Neil Blomkamps vision and I like the dark fry 343 now brings to edge of te Spartans minds and how immorally there valued.
    Thank You
    For Reading

  18. When I watched Avatar I thought “at last, now they can make a Halo movie franchise!”. I think the books are great and an obvious route to take, they capture everything you need for a good plot, story and character development, loads of action and a good insight into the enemy too. Dare I say that I wish the Star Wars franchise had followed the books released after the first films instead of creating those rubbish prequels that were flawed in every way except CGI.
    Halo could be huge, but if you tailor it to the younger audience and at risk of being called sexist, the female audience, then I feel the Halo universe will not sit right with the fans and it will be pegged a flop with no sequels. Don’t dumb it down, you don’t need to. The fans will love it, the youngsters will wish their lives away to become old enough to watch it, and if you don’t cock it up it should be good enough to keep the female audience interested too.
    Have faith, stop faffing and get on with it, after all with Halo 5 and a film, a Halo 6, 7, 8 and so on should be easy to justify and add to the 2billion already netted.

  19. Let Machinima produce the actually movie. Don’t outsource it to Hollywood that has been producing nothing but same recycled plots. Hollywood overemphasizes on effects and puts little emphasis on plot, as evident from Marvel stuff that they’ve been producing along with Transformers and other similar Sci-Fi stuff. The worst was Star Trek.

    So no Microsoft, please continue the Second Season of Halo 4, and let Machina do it, since they’ve done an amazing job at prequel.

  20. Please!!!! Somebody, make Halo a Movie a trilogy reality! I will go with all my friends!!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeeease!!!

  21. *Enters the comment section* “No… Just- just no.”

  22. Ever since I watched Halo Forward unto dawn I have googled when the next one is coming out in cinemas. I have even hired the game out a few times. I would have loved to have seen (with the same director and actors)this series start from the very beginning as I feel like I am missing the very beginning of a good ol’ yarn. I am aware that there are some in animation but I was not aware of any of this until the Forward unto dawn. The movie is awesome. I realize some comments about twilight/the hunger games and such but I fit into the young woman category and trust me this type of movie does not need to be romanticized like them. It was a solid wicked movie. I was hoping master chief ended up being Laskys older brother who is meant to be dead. I hope there is another Halo movie in the making. Purrrty please.

  23. it will be bettter that they should make the movie of halo after the movie comes out and everonr could wath bec i know that me an everybody that plays halo will love it

  24. Imo I think it wld be best to do it as the first movie is the war is going on so you have master chief as the finished product already then do a prequel that way it doesnt just start like hey these little kids were kidnapped and then continue from there I think it just works a little better. Or even a star wars approch to it.

  25. halo movie was good wish 4 the next one

  26. So can anyone tell me if there will be a continuation to Halo 4 Forward unto Dawn?