Spielberg eyeing Halo movie?

spielberg eyeing halo movie master chief

It is one of the cruelest stories in video game lore.  Fans of the Halo series have again and again had the morsel of a potentially awesome Halo movie dangled in front of them, only to have it disappear time and time again. Each time it sounds more promising, with big names attached, which just makes the inevitable disappointment worse when things crumble apart. So while the news of Spielberg and Dreamworks pursuing the rights to the Halo franchise is interesting, like Bush said, fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice… well, won’t get fooled again.

The online website for the New York Magazine, Vulture, is reporting that Spielberg and Dreamworks are pursuing the movie rights for the Halo franchise. But rather than dealing with the legal minefield (and numerous hurt feelings) left in the smoking ruins of the previous Halo movie attempt, Dreamworks is being clever and sneaky, and is instead attempting to buy the movie license for the Halo novels, not the game itself, thus sidestepping any potential litigation from Fox or Universal who were left holding a $12 million bill when studio politics landed a headshot on the movie and killed it dead.

For those that missed the painful story the first time around, the history of the Halo movie began in 2005 when Columbia Pictures president Peter Schlessel decided that he wanted to make a movie based on the game produced by Microsoft. Rather than taking the project directly through the studio system- an almost certain death sentence for a sci-fi adaption of a video game- Schlessel took the project and decided to sidestep the studio process altogether. Imagine Uwe Boll directing Halo, and you have an idea of why he wanted to avoid the standard channels that adaptations, especially video game adaptations, tend to go through.

Schlessel went directly to Microsoft and convinced them to bankroll screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later) a cool million dollars to write a Halo script that would belong to Microsoft and Schlessel. Once Garland completed the script, it was presented to the six largest studios with a sticker price of $10 million against 15-percent of the grosses for the rights. At this point, Microsoft had risked just a $1 million (a relatively insignificant sum for them), and was passing all the risk on to the studios while retaining a huge potential upside.

Partly because of Microsoft’s demands, and partly because of the risks associated with filming a $100+ million movie based on a video game, four studios passed (including Dreamworks), leaving just Fox and Universal. Rather than starting a bidding war, the two studios agreed to co-finance the project and split the revenues evenly.

Universal’s chairman Stacy Snider, who had just paid Peter Jackson a record-setting $20 million salary against 20-percent of the theatrical gross for King Kong, went back to Jackson and asked him if he would be interested in producing the Halo film. Jackson was then approached by Universal production president Mary Parent, who asked if he would be willing to mentor Neil Blomkamp, a South African film makers who’s only claim to fame was a six minute short called Alive in Joburg that had caught Parent’s eye. Jackson agreed, and in October of 2005, he was officially attached to produce with Blomkamp signed to direct. Although the movie was doomed, Jackson and Blomkamp remained close, and went on to collaborate on District 9, which Blomkamp directed and Jackson produced.

Then things began to get tense. Snider left Universal, and although they weren’t thrilled with the idea, her replacements agreed to give Jackson a large slice of the grosses on top of the 10-percent already promised to Microsoft.

Jackson, his producing partner (and wife) Fran Walsh and Schlessel began pre-production on the film. By September of 2006, tensions began to escalate between Fox and Universal over the budget of the movie, and the deals in place with Microsoft and Jackson that cut deeply into the studios’ potential profits. As an option payment loomed for Jackson and his partners, Fox execs demanded that the deal in place with Jackson be scrapped, or the studio would walk.

Universal, which had footed the majority of the bill thus far, went to Jackson, Walsh and Schessel and demanded that they take a cut in their deals or the film was dead. All three declined and blamed the studios for not being honest with them from the start.spielberg eyeing halo movie dnc

The film died a cold and lonely death there and then, but the story did not end there. Universal was left with a $12 million bill for the screenwriting and producing fees, and Fox refused to pay any of it, claiming that Universal mismanaged the project. The studios have since made peace without going to court, but there is still bad blood over the Halo film which Spielberg and Dreamworks are hoping to avoid.

Although the Fox-Universal Halo film died, it didn’t stop screenwriter Stuart Beattie (30 Days of Night, Pirates of the Caribbean) from writing a script based on the novel Halo: The Fall of Reach. He wrote the script on spec during the 2007 writers’ strike, and sent it to Microsoft, simply because he was a fan of the series. The script somehow made its way into the hands Spielberg in 2009, who has since been quietly eyeing his legal options regarding the rights.

By claiming to base a movie on the novels rather than the game, Dreamworks would essentially be creating a competing film to the Fox-Universal project, rather than breaching any copyright laws or violating any contracts which give the Fox-Universal team the rights to make a movie based only on the games. There might still be some legal jiu-jitsu in the works, but in theory it gives Dreamworks a clear road (legally speaking) to begin work on a Halo film. There is still one major hurdle though — Microsoft.

The software giant has never truly shown much interest in creating a Halo movie. The fear — and a justifiable one at that, based on the track record of video game adaptations — is that the movie would be terrible and it would only serve to hurt the $2 billion franchise that is already a huge success. In Microsoft’s eyes, the risks far outweigh the benefits.

It is still early, but if Microsoft does agree to let Spielberg take a crack at it, the negotiations are likely to be intense. If (and it is still a big “if”) a deal can be reached, then the movie will go through the difficult process of deciding on a budget, hiring a screenwriter, and choosing a director — assuming Spielberg only produces, which is probable based on his full schedule which has him booked solid through 2012. If and when that all comes together, Dreamworks would almost certainly want to at least tentatively plan on a franchise, which would further complicate the negotiations. So basically, the Halo movie saga has just been reset.

Here we go again.

Gaming

‘Spyro Reignited Trilogy’ proves nostalgia only goes so far

Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a faithful and beatiful remaster of the PlayStation classics, but its dedication to retaining the original experience ultimately hinders the experience. Spyro was great in the late-'90s, but it hasn't aged well.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

More cast members join Jordan Peele’s ‘The Twilight Zone’ reboot

Get Out writer and director Jordan Peele is developing and hosting a reboot of the classic sci-fi anthology series The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access, and the cast for the first season is filling out with some familiar faces.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Movies & TV

One popular character won't be returning for 'John Wick 3: Parabellum'

The third installment of the wildly successful action series that stars Keanu Reeves as a deadly assassin forced out of retirement, John Wick 3: Parabellum, hits theaters in May 2019. Here's everything we know about the movie so far.
Gaming

‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ director sets record straight on game’s progress

Final Fantasy VII Remake director Tetsuya Nomura clarified some information about the game's progress. There were earlier reports that the RPG was put on hold in favor of Kingdom Hearts III, but that is apparently not the case.
Features

From NES to PlayStation, retro gaming is booming. But will it last?

Everyone craves the good old days, and companies like Nintendo and Sony are cashing in with their mini versions of beloved retro consoles. But is this fad built to last or will our fixation with pixelated graphics come and go like mom…
Gaming

‘Blockchain gaming’ startup gets $16 million in Series A funding

A gaming startup, Mythical Games, has raised $16 million in Series A funding to work on their concept of blockchain gaming. The aim is for the startup to develop games for the PC, console, and mobile markets.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ named Ultimate Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick awards

This year's Golden Joysticks, the gaming awards handed out by GamesRadar, have been announced and Fortnite has been named the Ultimate Game of the Year. It beat out Red Dead Redemption for best game, but Red Dead was named critics' choice.
Gaming

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.
Gaming

‘Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers’ to launch next summer with gunblades, Viera

Square Enix revealed that Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers will be released in summer 2019. The third expansion of the MMORPG will include new story content, dungeons, and raids, in addition to gunblades and the Viera.
Gaming

The Fix PUBG campaign is over: What’s next for ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’?

The PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds development team declared that the Fix PUBG campaign was over. Here are the results of the three-month campaign, as well as the future plans for the multiplayer Battle Royale shooter.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!