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Gaming History You Should Know – The Unproduced Halo Movie May 16, 2021

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Uncategorized.
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It’s Sunday! I know it’s been a while since we’ve published a new Gaming History You Should Know article. Let’s be honest, with its twentieth anniversary happening later this year, Halo is poised for an enormous return when Halo: Infinite launches on the PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. Due to the property’s extreme popularity, we have seen both live-action and animated adaptations of various Halo stories over the years through various means (direct-to-video, direct-to-streaming) but to this day there has never been a Halo feature film. But did you know there was going to be a Halo feature film in the mid-to-late 2000s. Two major movie studios (Universal Studios and the now defunct 20th Century Fox) paid for the film rights to the property. It would’ve been directed by Neil Blomkamp, produced by Peter Jackson and written by Alex Garland. The film was never made, although the team did eventually produce a short film with the props they made and used it to promote Halo 3. What happened? Well, read on and find out.

People who followed video games back in the late 2000s might remember Microsoft made a deal with Peter Jackson (the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) to produce a Halo feature film. Jackson chose Neil Blomkamp as a director, and after a successful bid by two major Hollywood studios, began working on the movie with the help of WETA studios. A script was written by Alex Garland, a full-sized drivable Warthog was constructed, plenty of game-accurate weapons were were built, and the film was supposedly off to the races…until it came to a complete stop.

You have to remember that the Halo film was produced at a time when Hollywood elites believed they knew better than anyone else, and since this was before Kevin Feige took over Marvel Studios and proved to everyone that was a complete lie, most major media let these Hollywood executives keep their delusions. Before Iron Man started a cinematic universe due to it being produced by competent people familiar with the property, if an adapted movie like Super Mario Bros was a critical or commercial flop, the popular narrative was it flopped due to it being based on a video game (with all the negative subtext that went along with it), not due to the fact that the people making the major executive decisions about the film had no comprehension of the source material they were adapting and instead made whatever vanity movie they wanted and slapped a popular name they purchased for pennies on the dollar on it.

Thankfully, Microsoft didn’t become one of the most successful companies in the world by staffing stupid people. They were proud of Halo’s success and wanted a feature film with their property on it to succeed. In fact, to this day there is supposedly a Halo Bible, which third-party storytellers can cite to when they are working in the Halo universe so stories do not contradict. From what I understand about the negotiations for the film, they broke down because Microsoft insisted the film studios treat the Halo property with respect, and not produce a film that contradicts the established Halo canon or was a Halo film in name only. The studios stupidly refused, and the project was cancelled.

The guys over at How Did This NOT Get Made produced a fantastic podcast about this cancelled film. They did a great job to make this podcast accessible by everyone who listens to it. They’re coming more from a film background than a video games one, but the hosts certainly have personal experience with playing Halo. It starts by talking about the career of producer Peter Jackson, then goes into the history of Halo and Bungie, finally culminating with the story of the cancelled film. If you’d like to listen to it, check it out here!

So what were the consequences of the film’s cancellation? The team took the props and vehicles that were produced for the film and created a short movie called Halo: Landfall to promote the release of Halo 3. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it below.

Jackson and Blomkamp then went on to make the modern sci-fi classic District 9, and other than some direct-to-streaming features that later got released on home video, to this day there has never been a Halo feature film. In fact, WETA’s Warthog was used in the live-action Halo story, Halo 4: Forward onto Dawn. That said, I did think it was a little fishy that the absolutely awful 2015 Fantastic Four (made by the defunct 20th Century Fox) had its climax take place in a setpiece that looked suspiciously similar to Halo 3’s Ark portal.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is out now for Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Series X/S. Halo: Infinite is coming to PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S later this year.