Why Microsoft’s approach to the Halo movie deal failed or Don’t bring a battle rifle to a rights fight

Wired is currently featuring an excerpt from Generation Xbox: How Video Games Invaded Hollywood by Jamie Russell. The excerpt details Microsoft’s attempt to break in to the film game by offering Halo up as a blockbuster. 

The Master Chief suits were Shapiro’s idea and they ensured that the Halo deal made headlines even before the trade papers learned how rich the demands were. It was a spectacular attempt to turn Microsoft’s first foray into Hollywood filmmaking into a theatrical even and it very almost worked. Master Chief, the hero of Microsoft and Bungie’s bestselling Halo games, made his debut in Hollywood. Sadly, though, his Tinsel Town ascension was short-lived.

The excerpt goes on to explain the terms of the deal, the rest of the details of its presentation and also accompanies them with speculation from people on both sides as to why it ultimately fell though.

As Shapiro remembers it, “We told them: ‘You need to have all your decision makers in a room because we’re going to deliver the script for you to read together with a terms sheet. But there’s a fuse on it. You’ll only have a certain amount of time to make a deal.”

The whole thing is a really interesting look at the relationship between the movie and games industry. It’s hard to believe one on the most beloved and cinematic game franchises still hasn’t come to the silver screen. Both industries love money and both seemed to make a killing from the project. Even prospective director Neil Blomkamp (who ended up directing the excellent District 9) weighs in on the ways the two industries interacted and the way it effected the project.

“The suits weren’t happy with the direction I was going. Thing was, though, I’d played Haldo and I play videogames. I’m that generation more than they are and I know that my version of Halo would have been insanely cool. It was more fresh and potentially could have made more money that just a generic, boring film — something like G.I. Joe or some crap like that, that Hollywood produces.”

I’m not really the biggest Halo fan, but between loving movies and games, I would have loved to see Blomkamp’s take on the franchise. The idea of having up-and-coming directors working with major franchises to present them in a different, passion-driven light is really wonderful and we can always hope it’ll still happen.