By now everyone knows the long, sad story of the still-unrealized Halo movie: Peter Jackson made a play for production rights with newcomer Neill Blomkamp directing, but the deal ultimately fell through, with Microsoft’s demand for control over their most profitable IP one of the major sticking points. Since then Jackson moved on, and Blomkamp showed his sci-fi chops with District 9, and is set to make the blockbuster action film Halo fans could only dream of with this year’s Elysium (2013).
But while promoting the film this week, Blomkamp was asked about his feelings toward a potential Halo film; whether it was something he still wishes he could direct, or if his work since had scratched that same itch. His response will certainly offer hope for those who still dream of him landing the job, but his major reservations are the same as they ever were.
It’s not hard to understand why Microsoft and 343 Industries aren’t in a hurry to simply hand over the reins of a Halo film to any studio writer, director, and producers. As the past video game-to-movie adaptations have proven, the results are usually downright insulting to anyone who watches them (we could list some examples, but it’s just too painful).
Even if they were inspired by the best intentions Microsoft’s demands for oversight were too much for studios to swallow, and while Blomkamp may love the franchise, the company’s restrictions are still something he’s wary of:
“I still really love the world and the universe and the mythology of Halo. If I was given control, I would really like to do that film. But that’s the problem. When something pre-exists, there’s this idea of my own interpretation versus 150 other people involved with the film’s interpretation of the same intellectual property. Then the entire filmgoing audience has their interpretation. You can really live up to or fail in their eyes. That part isn’t appealing to me, but the original pieces are appealing.”
Screenshot of Blomkamp’s 2007 ‘Halo’ Short Film
Despite the Blomkamp-helmed Halo film that ultimately fell through, Microsoft has been completely open about their intentions to get a Halo movie made at some point, even if maintaining control over the course of the story and production meant financing the film themselves. The efforts to once again get a Halo film into production in 2011 stalled, even with Steven Spielberg attached to produce with DreamWorks. So Microsoft had the opportunity to put their money where there mouth is, and delivered the feature-length web series Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.
Taking a younger, more teen-aged slant on the origin story of the UNSC’s soldiers (both surgically-augmented and otherwise), Forward Unto Dawn helped set the stage for Halo 4 while also showing what a live-action Master Chief and co. would look like (outside of brief commercials). The results were impressive for fans of the extended fiction, but also highlight the increasing problems related to Blomkamp’s objections.
Since acquiring the Halo brand from Bungie in its entirety – and investing more money into marketing and the web series – it’s likely Microsoft will be more protective of the franchise at this point, not less. And going by the story conceits seen in the course of Halo 4‘s campaign, what once seemed like a straightforward universe ripe for some blockbuster storytelling is continuing its march into niche and heavy-handed science fiction. That’s all well and good for fans, but for a director or writer looking to tell a different story, it’s not a sign of artistic license being freely granted.
Assuming that wasn’t the case, Blomkamp still has a fairly full schedule. Once Elysium has released, there is still his comedic follow-up Chappie to complete, along with the undying rumors of a District 10 and whatever other offers come his way should Elysium garner the attention it seems it will. In other words: a Halo movie is still a long way off.
Would you prefer to see a Halo movie come only when Microsoft’s conditions are met, or should they let a director and writer tackle the universe, even if it means risking tainting the franchise’s name? Sound off in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.