Back in 2013, J.J. Abrams and Gabe Newell expressed a desire to work together to create movies based on Valve's Half-Life and Portal games. Since then there seems to have been little if any progress on that front, however, making the projects seem dead before they ever really got started.
Despite nothing being said about the films recently, Abrams has confirmed that they're not dead. Both films apparently have writers attached, and development is still moving forward even if it's moving slowly.
While Abrams was speaking with IGN during promotion for 10 Cloverfield Lane (directed by Dan Trachtenberg, who first gained widespread attention for his live-action fan film Portal: No Escape), the topic turned briefly to the two video game movies. When asked if he had a status update on the films, Abrams replied:
"Not yet. But they're in development, and we've got writers, and we're working on both those stories. But nothing that would be exciting... an exciting update."
While this isn't much news, it at least confirms that the projects haven't been abandoned. His claim that there was "nothing that would be an exciting update" suggests that the movies are still fairly early in the writing process, though. It's possible that Abrams is just being coy to better control when and how information is released (since he does have a history of doing so), but it's much more likely that the movies are simply making very slow progress.
One thing that will be interesting to see is whether there are direct connections between the two films. The Portal and Half-Life games take place within the same universe, with Portal's Aperture Science being a competitor to Half-Life's Black Mesa. With Abrams producing both films it can be assumed that these links will remain once the games get the movie treatment, but how overt the connection will be is anyone's guess. The connections could be as subtle as passing references or background images, or as obvious as cameos from major characters or references to events in the other film.
Of course, with the only progress being the attachment of writers to the films, we might have quite a long wait before we find out. Neither film has a director attached or any other sign of progress, so we'll have to wait and see whether the movies actually make it to the screen. Then again, a movie trilogy may be the only way that we'll ever get Half-Life 3.
We'll keep you updated on Portal and Half-Life as development continues.