For years, Microsoft has been trying to develop a live-action Halo project capable of doing their blockbuster game series justice. Once a full-length film to be directed by District 9 creator Neill Blomkamp, the feature was eventually sidelined over creative differences and a hefty budget. Later, the game publisher began work on Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, a web series (set to coincide with the release of Halo 4) which ultimately launched to favorable but unremarkable responses from fans and critics, alike.
Months later, Microsoft announced a Halo partnership with celebrated filmmaker Steven Spielberg that, seemingly, ensured the next live-action franchise project would also be the best – hopefully capturing the enormous scale of humanity’s battle with the Covenant (and Forerunners). The news was then followed by reports suggesting that Ridley Scott would produce a Halo-related feature – causing some fans to question whether or not Microsoft was over-extending its resources. Now, thanks to an official press release, we’re getting a clearer picture of where the two Halo projects fit within Microsoft’s cross-medium plans along with other programs now confirmed for the Xbox Originals slate.
In a blog post at the official Xbox News Wire, Microsoft offered-up a master list of intended projects; though, the publisher has separated the titles into two stages of progress: Committed Projects and In-Development.
Committed Projects include:
- Halo television series – Produced by Steven Spielberg.
- Every Street United – Unscripted reality-drama about Street Soccer players from around the world.
- Bonnaroo – Live-Streaming of the 13th annual Bonnaroo music and arts festival.
- Signal to Noise – A six-part documentary about the evolution of interactive technologies. The first episode “Atari: Game Over” explores “The Great Video Game Burial of 1983.”
- Humans – An adaptation of the Swedish series Real Humans, the hour-long, eight-episode, scripted drama tells the story of life-like robotic “synth” servants and their human masters.
- Digital Halo feature – Produced by Ridley Scott.
In-Development Projects include:
- Deadlands – A script based on Shane Lacy Hensley’s pen-and-paper role playing game.
- Extraordinary Believers – A hybrid stop-motion show from the creators of Robot Chicken.
- Fearless - An unscripted series starring Australian Navy bomb clearance diver (and shark attack survivor) Paul de Gelder who aids individuals that risk their lives to make the world a better place.
- Gun Machine – A hardboiled detective thriller based on the New York Times bestselling novel by Warren Ellis.
- Untitled JASH Comedy/Variety Half Hour – Each week a different well-known comedian will host/curate a show featuring new and unsung talent (in various video formats).
- Winterworld – A limited live-action series based on Chuck Dixon and artist Jorge Zaffino’s graphic novel series – in which our world has been encased in ice from pole-to-pole.
The list gives us an idea of what the publisher is currently looking to develop, though it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Microsoft is also looking at other series that could be adapted. Unfortunately, the press release doesn’t detail the story, director, or cast for either Halo project but readers who want to see the official breakdowns can check out the two Halo-related production synopses below:
The “Halo” television series is a groundbreaking original series based on the award-winning “Halo” franchise. Award-winning filmmaker, director and producer Steven Spielberg will executive produce the live-action TV series, created in partnership with 343 Industries and Amblin Television.
343 Industries and Scott Free Productions are creating a “Halo” digital feature to be released later this year. The project will be executive produced by Ridley Scott and Scott Free TV President, David Zucker. Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (“Battlestar Galactica,” “Pillars of the Earth,” “Heroes”) will direct.
Up to this point, Microsoft has been tight-lipped about what to expect from their Halo TV series and the digital feature – plus it is still unclear whether iconic leading man Master Chief will even be featured in either project. Despite some forgettable storytelling in Forward Unto Dawn, there’s no question the web series came alive when John-117 showed-up (and faced Covenant baddies). Reluctance toward how Master Chief would be depicted in a live-action Halo movie was partly responsible for scrapping feature production – since Microsoft does not want to harm their brand with a poorly received adaptation. Still, for casual viewers (an audience that the publisher is hoping to target with Xbox Originals), Master Chief is a much bigger selling point than the larger Halo world – meaning that a non-John-117 storyline would face a stiffer challenge out the gate.
That said, series fans (who have explored the Halo universe in non-game mediums) know that there are plenty of engaging stories that can be told outside of Master Chief’s core adventuring. The very fact that Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST were successful proves that, given the right characters and central story, fans and casual viewers could both be pulled-in by Halo universe story lines.
There is currently no official premiere date planned for the Halo TV series but viewers can expect the feature sometime in 2014. Halo 5 is scheduled to launch in 2014.
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