DreamWorks Renews Efforts at HALO Adaptation by Focusing on Novels

     October 6, 2010

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Halo is one of the most successful video game franchises of al-time but it’s had some trouble making its way to the big screen.  DreamWorks is now giving the Master Chief a new shot a motion picture as Vulture reports that the studio is reviving its efforts to obtain the rights and develop a feature film.  It’s a daunting proposition as Fox and Universal previously tried to adapt the game only to come out with lost cash and bitter recriminations.  Specifically, Universal lost about $12 million in development costs on the deal and there’s the worry that the studio may try to sue DreamWorks in order to recoup their failed investment.

Hit the jump for how DreamWorks plans to dodge that bullet and appease rights-holder Microsoft.

While tie-in novelizations aren’t exactly treasure troves of literary genius, the Halo novels provide an argument that DreamWorks is doing something different than Universal.  It also gets in good with Microsoft since the company has authorized the books as canon (even if the final script is wildly different than the books).

This less-than-sly move to avoid potential litigation is kind of silly when you realize that the entire Halo universe boils down to space marines fighting aliens.  But when there are potentially billions of dollars at stake (the newest Halo game, Halo: Reach, grosses $200 million on its release date), it makes sense.  There’s also the issue of keeping Microsoft happy.  A source tells Vulture:

[Microsoft] doesn’t want anything to happen in any other media that could screw up a multi-billion dollar franchise. Somebody has to be in control of a movie; it’s a director’s medium. But they’re completely averse to that. Because if [DreamWorks co-founder] Steven Spielberg fucks it up, what’s your recourse? So the rule is: ‘First, do no harm.’”

I’m a little bummed that they’re going to use the novels as source material because it shoots down my spec script, which is incredibly faithful to the spirit of the games: it’s two hours of characters shouting gay and racial slurs and then teabagging each other.

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