As Nick mentioned in this morning’s podcast, we are nearing the release of the newest entry in the Halo video game franchise, Halo: Reach. Considering two of its predecessors were, at the time of their release, the fastest selling media products in the history of all things that are, and that the brand as a whole has racked up half-a-dozen successful video game releases, with millions of books, mangas, comics and animes sold, as well enough licensed merchandise to round out the franchise’s total haul to something north of $2 Billion dollars… where the fuck is the movie? How has Hollywood, which will seemingly churn out a movie based on even the most inconsequential of established characters or brands, let this one go?
A Halo production was on the path to filming, this is true. 2005 saw a great deal of movement as Microsoft pulled a sales stunt that had Master Chief delivering a script and terms to studios all over Hollywood. Then Peter Jackson and Neil Blomkamp spent +5 months in pre-production with WETA on a version of the project that was nearly bankrolled by 20th Century Fox before the funding was pulled, the WETA development was channeled and reconfigured into (the obviously Halo-influenced) District 9, and rights fully lapsed back to Microsoft.
Five years later and there has still been no meaningful movement towards another crack at making a film out of what has already been called the true modern successor to Star Wars. In a recent article obviously timed for the new game’s release (which you can see for a few seconds before the retarded pay-wall comes crashing down on you), Variety took a look at the franchise as a whole and, mixed among the statistics and timelines, offered a few quotes from Frank O’Connor, Microsoft’s Halo overseer.
“We’re still interested in making an excellent Halo movie. We’ve created an awful lot of documents 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.”
You know what? Good on ‘em. The last thing any potential Halo film or game needs is to be rushed out in order to align with the release of another product, or to meet an arbitrary release date. Also delightful to hear (especially for those that feel the Halo universe, while cinematic, is a bit over-clunky in the story department), is that the film would be its own thing- a streamlined, independent piece that avoids staying slave to game’s canon. Scripts generated from Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine, and the upcoming Dredd reboot), Stuart Beattie (the 1st and upcoming 4th film, Pirates of the CaribbeanCollateral, and G.I. Joe), Josh Olson (History of Violence) and D.B. Weiss are all still being used as reference points as Microsoft keep script development going continuously.
Halo is a powerhouse franchise that is here to stay. Whether or not it becomes a true media cultural cornerstone in the way that something like Star Wars has remains to be seen, but there can be no doubt- when the movie arrives, it will be huge. Microsoft knows this, and I bet the studios have learned this even if they were skeptical of it back when the franchise had only made its first billion or so. Perhaps a massive launch of Reach will be enough to get the studios actively calling again. Perhaps it will be after the 4th flagship game. Whenever it happens, I hope it’s the right time.
Until that day, and until the release of the new game, get a taste of the more cinematic side of production on the Halo games- the sound design. The video below comes from the Soundworks Collection, who I am a great fan of. Enjoy.