The Halo Movie Failed Because Microsoft Didn't Understand Hollywood

It had a script. It had the backing of two major film studios. It had the support of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. Everything seemed like it was clicking into place for the Halo movie before it abruptly collapsed, and you can blame Microsoft for that, according to writer Jamie Russell.

Writing in his new book Generation Xbox: How video games Invaded Hollywood, Russell says the project fell apart because Microsoft was unfamiliar with the glitzy world of moviemaking.

In an excerpt from the book that's up now on Wired, Russell writes that Microsoft "wandered into the deal naïvely expecting everyone to play by its rules and the resulting culture shock put immense strain on the Halo deal." The publisher asked for too much and didn't know how to play ball.

What was apparent during the Halo deal-making was that Microsoft was far from home, perhaps even surrounded in enemy territory. In the middle of the Halo negotiations, as all parties sat around the table, Shapiro recalls the discussion between Microsoft's Hollywood liaison Peter Schlessel and Jimmy Horowitz, Universal's co-president of production, taking an aggressive turn. "Schlessel was getting really tough on some of the terms with Horowitz: ‘Come on, don't be a jerk, blah, blah, blah…'. It was getting really heated. The guy from Microsoft [Steve Schrek] was like, ‘Wow, this is really good.' Then we took a break and Schlessel goes to Horowitz, ‘Are you coming over for Passover?' Because they know each other. You don't have those kinds of relationships in video games. In Hollywood you can be getting at each other but then you're playing golf together the next day."

Microsoft's negotiators got in over their heads, Russell writes.

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."

The whole story is absolutely fascinating. Check it out!

Why the Halo Movie Failed to Launch [Wired]


Comments

    Man that is so disappointing... it would have been BETTER than Avatar.

    First Bioshock now Halo...

    Sounds to me like what actually happened was the studios wanted to take a larger cut of it than Microsoft was happy with considering it was their IP that was going to make the movie a success in the first place. Maybe it's time Hollywood realised how it works in the games sector? When you have an IP that is already as massive as Halo, a movie attached to that is already guaranteed a huge success. This isn't like comics where some prefer this character, some prefer that character. This isn't Mortal Kombat, where you have several different characters that noone really gives a crap about because there's no storyline of any significance involved. It's Halo. It's Master Chief. There is one, and only one, character, and everyone who's a fan of the game would be going to the movies to see him. The Halo series has accrued enough game time that someone traveling at the speed of light could have journeyed to the other side of the galaxy and back again. There really is no arguing with that, and such popularity allows a no compromises stance

      Just like they did for Prince Of Persia, Far Cry, Final Fantasy and a lot of other popular gaming IPs...
      Video game movies are very risky because if you only get the gaming audience its likely going to be a flop give that it will most likely cost 130mil etc to make. If MS wants 50mil to allow you to make this movie its going to be even more risky.

        while I don't entirely agree with Allanon, you can't really compare Prince of Persia, Farcry (seriously?), and Final Fantasy to Halo.

          hmmm I think you can. What's the difference in terms of popularity?
          Halo isn't as popular as you might think globally.

      .. what? Are you trying to say that some Mortal Kombat fans didn't go see the movie/s because they only like Kano and couldn't care less about the rest of the characters?

      You're obviously not an MK fan.

      Halo's gotta be tough. The protagonist is FACELESS, for a start.

    Maybe Hollywood wanted to cast crappy B-list actors and the plot would have been about something else other than anything related to Halo. It's not like they've had a stellar history with adapting video games into movies to begin with: Doom, Alone in the Dark, Mario...

      Thankyou for reminding me of that Doom film. Even Karl Urban's hotness wasn't enough to keep me watching it.

      Dear Hollywood,
      how about you stay away from videogames and focus on creating original material and not remakes of every fucking thing in existence?
      Kthks.

    Maybe the movie failed because Microsoft knew all too well how Hollywood works....and how every video game movie has sucked so far.

    hollywood doesn't 'get' video games either. i remember those halo shorts that blomkampf made, they were cool but nothing like halo.

    Microsoft should do a marvel, or a lucas, and make it themselves. It is possible to make movies that are very successful without a major studio being involved.

      Would be nice but you need the studios to distribute, even Lucas needed 20th Centry Fox.

      It may be possible, but it's also extremely improbable, and the examples you give don't really compare to the situation. Marvel managed to get funding for their in-house superhero films based on the success of previously licensed superhero films (developed with other studios) such as the Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and the X-Men films, particularly since superhero films are pretty much a license to print money at the moment. It was from an extremely lucky break due to Alan Ladd's pull at Fox and the smarts to negotiate for licensing rights on Star Wars that allowed Lucas to (mostly) self-fund Empire.

      I imagine that Microsoft had already determined that it wasn't feasible to develop a Halo film in-house, hence why it went with the studios. And seeing as how a terrible movie can tarnish a game license, I imagine they did indeed play hardball in order to protect their IP, rather than Microsoft 'not understanding Hollywood'. Having no Halo movie is better for them and the IP than having a terrible one out there.

    I'd love to see a company give one of the indie-director/producers like Freddie W a whole bunch of money and say "Make it happen"

    psst, it is probably because a certain large software company can be a little hard to work with. im fairly certain console devs reading this will know what i mean.

    "This summer, Michael Cera is... Halo"

      "This summer, Robert Pattinson is...Halo"

    im preety sure microsoft wanted 10% on all theathical boxoffjce earnings and since studios giv about 40% (which is bullshit ) to theaters they would only get 25% each because both studios were involved , it would make no sence for studios to produce the film , microsofts greed killed the film they were not doin so they can have a halo film or else there would already be one , it sux because it will NEVER happen now ,

    The is just the studio firing the first shot, trying to get their opinion out and install it as the right one, simply because theirs came first.

    This is similar to how a nobody (tv or radio station host, or magazine employee) bags on an artist or actor/actress saying their egotistical or whatever crap, simply because they didn't get along, or their stupid expectations weren't met.

    I'll take Microsoft's side on this one thanks.

      *Saying that they're egotistical

    A crappy cash grab Halo movie died and from the ashes we got District 9. Fair trade I'd say.

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