Microsoft and its Halo universe are no strangers to live-action shorts and high-concept commercials, even if the company has famously failed to make anything larger — like, say, a feature film — actually come to fruition. It hasn’t been for lack of interest obviously, but was in fact an overabundance of interest that ultimately killed the effort in ’06- a story we just recently learned more details about.

All these years later it’s time for the Halo franchise to make another metric fuck-ton-load of money with the release of the fourth main-title game, and Microsoft will taking the opportunity to invest in a live-action run of web shorts that will both set up the new game, provide a prequel for the whole series, and, most importantly, provide an accessible entry point for non-fans interested in the universe. Titled Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, the story will follow a UNSC cadet entering the fleet in the shadow of the mighty Master Chief. The series of five 15-minute(ish) shorts will tell the story of the cadet being inspired by Halo’s star character, which will ultimately lead the cadet to his own heroics and a destiny of leading troops on the UNSC Infinity.

The series will play on Machinima, which hosts video game-centered series, and Halo-focused online site Waypoint in the five weeks leading to the November 6th release of the new game. There’s no word on who will be involved with the series, with Microsoft keeping their lips sealed until Comic Con in a few month. Whoever they announce will be joining a roster that includes Neil Blompkamp, who came this close to directing the feature film, and Rupert Sanders, who has the visually-rich blockbuster Snow White & The Huntsman coming out this year. I’m sure it’s a competitive gig, especially with Microsoft apparently dropping more cash on this round of shorts than anything they’ve produced before.

Ultimately their cited goal is to “go way beyond [marketing] and transform this live-action exploration from advertising into a full standalone product that people will enjoy.” One expects that combining that with another record breaking release for the next game will perk up Hollywood interest in the franchise once again. I mean, hell, virtually every studio in town has gone through a regime change or three since ’06, so a different studio might be willing to dive in, deal with Microsoft, and milk this cash cow at long last. If Microsoft is still serious about a film and learned anything at all from their last experience, perhaps the second time will be the charm.

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Source | Variety