Halo flick suffers studio setback
The strict budget and quality control guarantees Microsoft had previously outlined for the cinematic rendition of Halo had been expected to dissuade major studios from getting involved in this prestige project, but despite Redmond's extensive demands, Universal and Fox were persuaded to back the film. It appears the two studios may have thought better of it after all, however, announcing that they will no longer be involved after negotiations to change the original deal were rebuffed by Microsoft.
Microsoft not only wanted the largest movie deal ever for a film based on a game, they also wanted themselves and Bungie to have the final say on all creative decisions, as well as the nuances of the Alex Garland-penned script. Despite this, Fox and Universal did thrash out an agreement to pay for and distribute the film. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are producing the Halo film, and it was this pair who dismissed the studios at Microsoft's bequest, when they wished to improve the terms of the deal in their favour.
Rumours published by Variety magazine suggest that the film's budget has now hit some 200 million USD, despite the fact that currently no funding or distribution is in place. "The only budget the filmmakers every spoke about was $145 million less the 12.5 per cent rebate that you get from shooting in New Zealand, which would put it at about $128 million," read a denial from the producers. "That was the only number that was ever discussed."
Jackson's Weta Digital are continuing pre-production work on the film, despite the loss of financial backing, while Microsoft are scurrying around finding new partners. An official statement added to the Bungie website read thusly:
"We are disappointed that Universal and Fox wanted to significantly renegotiate the financial points of the deal. But the Halo franchise is hugely popular and our goal remains the same - to find a partner that shares our passion and will creatively collaborate with us to best represent the story and spirit of the Halo franchise. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and the rest of the creative team are dedicated to ensuring the Halo movie becomes a reality," continued the update. "We are already in discussions with potential partners who recognise the value of the Halo brand and its appeal to consumers worldwide."
Progress on the project continues unabated then, with the production team still in place, whilst new studios are sought.