When I play an amazing video game with beautiful cinematics and an interesting or engaging story, I often think to myself that it would make for an amazing film. But I also think how much I dread Hollywood attempting to do so because there’s a 98% chance they’ll make a low-quality movie that doesn’t do the property justice.
This is sadly the current state of the video game movie genre. With awful films like Max Payne, Doom, Hitman and the more recent Resident Evil movies not living up to their names, it’s tough to get excited and easy to be worried about big studios taking our favorite games and damaging the franchise.
What would of been one of the biggest and most ambitious video game adaptations to date was of course, that of Halo, a movie to be based on the incredibly successful and critically adored franchise of sci-fi first person shooters by Bungie and Microsoft. Halo is one of those film properties in development hell, having almost seen the light of day a few years back when Peter Jackson brought in the at-the-time-unknown director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) to helm the feature.
Blomkamp showed off his skills with his amazing work on the Halo 3 video game marketing campaign, where he directed a live-action short which, while in a completely different style than the clean and colorful games, was harsh, gritty and realistic – a style he later utilized in District 9 which he and Jackson chose to work on after the Halo movie was canned by Fox and Universal due to budgetary concerns and fear that the video game movie may not perform at the box office. Blame the horrendous Doom movie.
Since then, we’ve – for better or worse – not heard of any serious movement in the Halo movie, despite the successful releases of several Halo games since then. Halo 3 had a spin-off in Halo 3: ODST, Microsoft released the Halo Wars strategy game and in less than two weeks the eagerly anticipated game of the year candidate Halo: Reach will hit shelves. With the money these games earn, the love from gamers and critics, and the success of tie-in merchandise, where is our Halo movie?
At the MI6 Conference in San Francisco back in April, Content Manager Frank O’Connor of Microsoft Game Studios (previously the voice of Bungie Studios, developers of Halo) had the following to say about the Halo movie in a presentation titled “Extending Your Game Beyond the Package.”
“We’re going to make a movie when the time is right… We own the IP. If we want to make a movie, the scale of all the other stuff that we do changes dramatically. We make tens and tens of millions of dollars on ancillary stuff, toys, apparel, music and publishing. If we do a movie all of that will grow exponentially. We have some numbers if we do a movie, but it changes everything. It also changes our target and age demographic.”
When is the time right I wonder? The main trilogy of games is over and we’re getting a prequel story with Halo: Reach. The creators, Bungie Studios, have left Microsoft for a long-term deal with Activision-Blizzard to work on a new sci-fi franchise. And they frustrated Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp to the point where even if they were offered a chance at making the Halo movie again, they likely wouldn’t.