The elusive dream that is a feature-length Halo has been in development for years, with so many major adaptations of the popular video game franchise ultimately coming to naught. The most famous of these was to be a live-action film directed by Neill Blomkamp, before it was canceled and he went on to make District 9.
There does appear to be movement on a Halo digital feature to be produced by Prometheus director Ridley Scott, with a script by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Falling Skies). There’s also a separate, Steven Spielberg-produced Halo series which will air on Microsoft’s XBox One next-gen console, which may (or may not) see Blomkamp hop aboard to direct the pilot.
Variety now reports that premium cable outlet Showtime is close to a deal which will see the channel develop and air a “live-action drama series” based on the game franchise. Xbox Entertainment Studios and Showtime will partner on the show, which will air on both the premium channel as well as on the Xbox. While the deal is apparently still in the negotiations phase, it sounds like the project will be finalized soon.
The series is in development under Spielberg’s Amblin TV banner, with an undisclosed pair of showrunners working from “an expansive bible” from screenwriter Stuart Beattie (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). The Halo series will air on Showtime first, then on the Xbox One platform.
This is indeed new territory for both Microsoft and Showtime, and while the series has been in development at Amblin TV for more than a year, there are no details as to how long this deal with Showtime has been in the works. Microsoft is understandably protective of its hit property, and is evidently working to included an “enhanced interactivity” for the platform. What exactly this means is unclear, but suggests some kind of multi-platform connection between the TV series and upcoming installments of the game.
Stuart Beattie’s involvement with the Halo adaptation goes back several years, and has been connected to several blockbusters since then (I, Frankenstein notwithstanding), so with his bible forming the spine of the early development process, this likely seems safer on paper for executives at both Microsoft and Showtime.
Marvel’s attempt at a multi-platform entertainment model with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. faltered for most of its first season, but has found a strong base in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘s game-changing plot twists.
Could the Halo series prove to be a solid cross-platform offering out of the gate? If so, it might end up to be the title that makes Xbox a viable and envied outlet for original programming, as well as an example for future attempts at such a wide-ranging project, like the often-stalled cross-platform adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.
Xbox and Showtime’s Halo series is still development. Stay tuned for more as details emerge.