At a certain point, a big-screen adaptation of "Halo" appeared to be a sure fire thing, a can't-miss goldmine. Especially when word got out that it had the backing of several major studios in Hollywood, along with the involvement of celebrated director Peter Jackson, of "Lord of the Rings" fame.
But when production ceased abruptly six years ago, everyone, especially gamers, were left scratching their heads. Jamie Russell's new book, entitled "Generation Xbox: How Video Games Invaded Hollywood," gives a view of what went wrong, contending it was mostly the fault of Microsoft, the publisher of the game.
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Microsoft declined to comment on the book's assertions. "Right now our focus is on supporting 'Halo 4' and 'Halo Waypoint,' " said a company spokesperson.
Wired recently posted an excerpt from the book, with Russell detailing how Microsoft did not have an understanding of how Hollywood operates, and vice versa. It also goes on to illustrate the differences between the video game industry and movie industry as a whole.
Much of the issue stems from Microsoft's desire for unprecedented control, from the production schedule to creative issues, Russell contends.
Microsoft also demanded regular flights from Seattle to Los Angeles to review post-production footage first-hand, and even 60 first-class tickets for personnel and guests to the eventual premiere, the writer says.
Larry Shapiro, of Creative Artists Agency, says in the book that what made the demands even more outrageous was that "Halo," as a video game property, didn't have much respect in Tinsel Town. Writes Russell:
What ultimately killed the Halo movie was money. "Microsoft’s unwillingness to reduce their deal killed the deal,” says Shapiro. “Their unwillingness to reduce their gross in the deal meant it got too top-heavy. That movie could have been 'Avatar.' "
Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.