Perhaps Microsoft and those involved are doing it the right way, not rushing it for the sake of expanding the brand. Fast forward to present day and Variety spoke with O'Connor about the brand and the Halo movie and he explains that his goal is to "protect the franchise."
"I don't have a mandate by management to grow it by any numbers... The mandate is to grow it naturally."
Sound familiar? If you're a gamer-movie geek you may recognize this thought process from similar situations arising out of the Metal Gear Solid and Half-Life properties where the developers/publishers are trying to protect their brand and instead of letting Hollywood make a film for an easy buck, they want to wait and be involved themselves to ensure it's done right. In the case of Half-Life, developers Valve may even try to make the movie on their own. Wouldn't that be something?
O'Connor isn't joking about protecting the Halo brand however, as Bungie must approve every detail of every product tie-in that hits the market. They have an extensive and growing "bible" of the Halo universe and they want the books, comics and merchandise all to follow this cannon. Variety points out that Bungie even has to approve the colors of military uniforms and armor on toys, and they provide the digital models of characters to McFarlane Toys who make the popular Halo action figure lines.
"We have a lot in common with 'Star Wars' when it comes to having a big universe, recognizable characters and fundamentally really cool stuff... A lot of studios and film companies and game companies have tried to create (their own "Star Wars"). (But) you can't set out to make a successful franchise on purpose. It has to be something that fans are attracted to and love. There's only so much you can do to achieve that deliberately. But it always comes down to a great story and characters."
Microsoft currently holds the film rights for Halo and truthfully does wish to make the Halo movie when the story and budget are finalized. The budgetary concerns of several years ago, where the project cost was exceeding $135 million, are no longer insane numbers for a summer action blockbuster (hell, they spent $200 million on Prince of Persia) so now it comes down to finding the right script and talent. Microsoft is still working off scripts by Garland, Stuart Beattie, D.B. Weiss and Josh Olson as the template going forward. Says O'Connor:
"We're still interested in making an excellent 'Halo' movie... We've created an awful lot of documentation and materials to support a feature film. We have a good idea of what kind of story we want to tell, but won't move on it until there's a great reason to do it. We're in no particular hurry."
While I understand some hardcore fans will be disappointed that this isn't happening right away and that Microsoft isn't fast-tracking the Halo movie, this is a very good thing. Trust me. The last thing we want is the awesome Halo franchise turned into non-awesome movies because once that happens, there's no going back.
As for the story, the movie will not be a retelling of one of the games' stories and instead will be a standalone story. Devoted Halo fans will no doubt debate this chosen direction and we will never know if this is the right path until we see the final product. But usually when those involved with the video game film go with their own direction and don't follow what worked about the story, style and character of the game - they fail. "If you did do a 100% faithful version, 999 times out of 1,000 it would be a mess," says O'Connor, explaining their reasoning. I don't agree.
Microsoft is also following the TV market as a possible way of delivering Halo in another medium. Whether such a series would replace the Halo movie or add to the expanding universe, we'll have to see.
In short, we don't know when a Halo movie will happen but it'll be different than the games. While I'm immediately hesitant at the idea of them creating their own separate story with the Halo brand, the fact that they're not rushing into it could be a good sign.
For more on the Halo video games and this months' release of Halo: Reach, hit up our sister site Game Rant. You won't be disappointed.