Tuesday, October 12, 2010


So will it happen or not???
According to a recent article posted in Nymag.com, things are finally beginning to shape up in a definitive direction, for Microsofts billion-dollar game franchise.

Yes, it has been a long time coming, but we really need to put this bit of good news under the magnifying glass, in order to ensure that its not just some sort of deja vu unfolding before our eyes.

Summarized From Nymag.com -- DreamWorks Pictures is renewing its efforts to obtain the rights and revive the project, which has been in a state of suspended animation since late 2006. It's obvious why this property seems even more valuable now. Halo: Reach grossed $200 million on its very first day in release last month, making it 2010's best-selling game. But after Fox and Universal already dumped millions of dollars into developing the project only to come up with nothing, why does DreamWorks seem so intent on trying, and how will they steal away with this franchise without getting sucked into the other two studios' money pit? 

Well folks, let's back up and take a complete Halo history lesson:

Five years ago, when former Columbia Pictures president Peter Schlessel first championed the project, he deliberately began working outside the studio system, hoping to avoid the development psychodrama that ruins and stalls so many adaptations. He got Microsoft to pay screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later) a million dollars to fashion an original Halo script before even a single Hollywood studio had signed on to finance or distribute the movie.
                   [Cool Halo art on the right, above, was created by http://www.geodex.deviantart.com/]

In a theatrical flourish, Creative Artists Agency, the firm representing the lucrative project, dispatched messengers dressed as Halo protagonist Master Chief — yes, wearing space helmets — with copies of Garland’s script to all six major studios. Their asking price: A whopping $10 million against 15 percent of the grosses. For Microsoft, it was all upside and virtually no risk. But then again, the franchise had already sold $600 million worth of video games at that time.

Citing Microsoft’s disproportionate reward for a nearly total lack of risk, most studios (including DreamWorks at the time) passed over the game franchise. Both Fox and Universal were interested, but decided that rather than bidding against each other, they’d partner on the film.

In what was the largest intellectual property deal in the history of the movie business, the two rival studios finally agreed to pay $5 million to option Halo and pay Microsoft 10 % of its eventual theatrical gross — Universal would oversee production and distribute the movie in the States, and Fox would release the film overseas, but both studios would share revenues 50/50.
Sadly, as with so many Hollywood marriages, their partnership would barely last a year.

The Politically Inclined Movie-Making Drama Unfolds...

The trouble began with the hire of director Peter Jackson as a producer. Under Universal Pictures chairman Stacey Snider’s tenure, Jackson had earned the highest salary ever paid to a film director in advance of production, $20 million against 20 percent of the theatrical grosses for Universal's remake of King Kong.

In the late summer of 2005, Universal production president Mary Parent had seen a six-minute short, Alive in Joburg, by South African director Neil Blomkamp, who would go on to make District 9. Soon after, she approached Jackson about mentoring Blomkamp on Halo. Jackson soon agreed to the idea, and by October 2005, his involvement was officially announced. [Game art above is courtesy of Microsoft].

After Universal Pictures chairman Stacey Snider stepped down in February 2006, her replacements, David Linde and Marc Shmuger, agreed to keep Jackson’s rich deal in place: A hefty slice of the Halo grosses would go to Jackson for supervising the neophyte Blomkamp, even though 10 percent of Halo's gross was already promised to Microsoft.

But by September 2006, there was no definite script, and production costs were climbing steadily.
By October 2006, with another option payment looming for Universal, the two Fox Chairmen [Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos] insisted the original first-dollar deals for Peter Jackson, his producing partner Fran Walsh, and original producer Peter Schlessel all be scrapped, or Fox would walk.

Suddenly facing the loss of its much-needed partner on a massive $135 million blockbuster, Universal Studios—having already spent millions to option the project and employ Jackson, Walsh, and Blomkamp for the better part of a year—was forced to issue an ultimatum to Peter Jackson and co, which would literally cut down their fat pay checks.

Of course, Peter Jackson and the two other guys refused that offer, claiming that they'd already wasted a year of their lives prepping the movie, and they wanted their f#%king money [LOL].

[Above: Halo Wallpaper showing the Sci Fi Spartan soldiers]

And despite the fact that Universal had already spent $12 million  in screenwriting and production fees, and despite threatened law suits between the two studios, the Halo movie [which still had no solid script] fizzled out like a dying flame.

But Alas, time has healed old wounds, and DreamWorks studio [headed by Steven Spielberg] is now taking the reigns to produce a Halo movie, which will hopefully evolve into a trilogy... and DreamWorks reps have already hinted that it will be based upon COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MATERIAL than the previous movie prduction/script-writing failure that got Fox and Universal execs staring daggers at each other.
By doing that, DreamWorks will boycott any sort of financial liability that Universal lawyers could possibly conjure, in an attempt to gain back the "lost $12 million".

So will it finally Happen? Will Master Chief make the heroic leap from the game screen to the big screen? We shall just have to wait and see if DreamWorks can come up with a solid script... hopefully within the next 12 months.