The Halo TV Show: Moving from Showtime to Paramount+

By Rick Gonzales

halo tv show

In 2018, the Showtime network greenlit a television show based on the Halo video game series. Since then they’ve been slowly turning their Halo series project into a reality. The Halo TV show is coming, they’re just taking their time about it.

While Showtime had originally intended for the TV show to air on their own network, they are now in partnership with 343 Industries and Amblin Television as producers. The Halo TV show is going to stream on Paramount+. This partnership means that the same production team that’s been working on the series so far will continue to work to create their vision, but that you’ll be watching the show on the new streaming network.

Given Hollywood’s recent track record of adapting video games, maybe taking their time about getting Halo TV show absolutely right is a good thing. The best Hollywood video game translations we’ve gotten are most accurately classified as not that bad. Those include The Angry Birds Movie 2 with 72% positive reviews while Pokémon Detective Pikachu pulled in a 69%. However, most video game based movies have been more like Alone In The Dark and its 1% or maybe the 2% from Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Translating video games into live-action properties has not gone well. Showtime is about to change that with Halo. Here’s everything we know so far about the upcoming Halo TV show.

FIRST LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES OF HALO

halo tv show arm
Image credit: 343 Industries

Executive producer Kiki Wolfkill has shared some incredible looks behind the scenes of the upcoming Halo series at the official Halo website, and it is our first real glimpse of how the show will capture the iconic video game’s look. Above, you can see what appears to be a Sangheili hand wrapped in some plastic film to keep it from any exterior damage. This and the other shots we see are good indications that the show will be using some high-end practical effects.

halo tv show unsc
Image credit: 343 Industries
halo tv show guns
Image credit: 343 Industries

These next two pictures show off the UNSC military hardware, including some classic looking assault rifles that any fan of the game will be familiar with.

halo jen taylor
Image credit: 343 Industries

And last but certainly not least is a sneak peek at Jen Taylor recording her performance for Cortana. If these first looks are anything to go off, it seems like the Halo series will be a very faithful adaptation of the popular video game franchise.

HAVEN’T WE SEEN THIS BEFORE?

halo master chief

In fact, we have. There’s never been a Halo TV show before, but the Halo franchise has completed and released two live-action projects, neither one gaining the acclaim they were looking for. The first one, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, was released in 2012 and was set to be a feature film but instead was released as a web series in five 15-minute episodes. The series starred Thom Green (Home and Away, Dance Academy) as Cadet Thomas Laskey who joined forces with Master Chief John-117 in an effort to take down the Covenant. It did not strike the right chord with even the most hard-core Halo fans.

The second attempt at a Halo movie, Halo: Nightfall, came in 2014. That also turned into another five-episode series and was led by Mike Colter (Luke Cage, Evil). Colter played Jameson Locke, a new character introduced into the Halo franchise, and followed Locke and his team as they investigated terrorist activity on a colony world named Sedra. Like its predecessor, this series also didn’t fare well with fans.

Even though the Halo franchise has seen great success with its video game releases, the live-action side has failed. The things they have produced haven’t been good and the things that could have been good, like the big-budget live action theatrical Halo movie planned in the early 2000s, never got off the ground. Until now.

WHERE DOES THE STORY START?

halo cortana

First things first. Showtime had a challenge on their hands and Showtime co-president Gary Levine acknowledged just that at the 2019 Television Critics Association summer press tour. “Our challenge on this series was to take a video game and make it into a character drama that belongs on Showtime.” Obviously challenge accepted.

As for the plot of Showtime’s Halo TV show, there isn’t much known at this point. What Halo does have going for it is that it’s a series. It won’t be handcuffed by a two-hour time limit as a feature film would be. Characters and worlds can develop at a pace more suited for fans.

We can, though, assume a few things. There will be Spartans. Spartans are super-soldiers created to fight a rebellion but instead turned into the best weapon to defeat an alien species known as the Covenant.

The star of the Halo series will be the Master Chief and where the Master Chief goes also goes Cortana. Cortana is the AI (artificial intelligence) that assists the Master Chief in the video games. It would be virtually impossible to have a series and not have Cortana and the Master Chief and both of them are in it.

With the vastness of the video game series, it is hard to say where Showtime will start their Halo TV show. There are five Halo games with a sixth due out sometime this year. Finding enough source material for the series won’t be difficult.

Levine also mentioned during the aforementioned summer press tour that “It is a new story but we are being incredibly respectful of the canon and working with the Microsoft/343 people to be sure we don’t violate any of that.”

CASTING THE HALO TV SERIES

Halo series lead
Pablo Schreiber in American Gods

For the most part, Halo revolves around one Spartan, the Master Chief. He is the character fans care about most. Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is The New Black, Skyscraper) has been chosen to play the Master Chief in the Halo TV show. You may recognize Schreiber as he’s been a working character actor for some time. He tends to gravitate toward the “heel” in many of his roles, but here he’ll change it up and play the good guy.

Jen Taylor

Jen Taylor will voice Cortana in the Halo TV series. Halo fans will know that Taylor voiced Cortana in the Halo video games. It’ll be good to have the right voice for the character in both formats.

Halo TV show co-star
Natascha McElhone

Natascha McElhone (Californication, Designated Survivor) was originally cast Dr. Catherine Halsey and the AI Cortana in the Halo series. However due to scheduling problems, McElhone will no longer be voicing Cortana. She will only play Dr. Halsey. Halsey is the creator of the SPARTAN-II Project, the one that saw the creation of the Spartans. It is also a flash clone of her brain that formed the base of Cortana.

Halo series star
Bokeem Woodbine in Fargo

Bokeem Woodbine (Devil, Spider-Man: Homecoming) will star as Soren-06, a character who will find himself at odds with his old friend, the Master Chief.

THE TEAM MAKING THE HALO TV SHOW

Kyle Killen has been selected as both showrunner and writer for the Halo series. Killen has written for shows such as Lone Star and Mind Games, neither one a huge success, so Showtime may be rolling the dice here.

Levine explained, through Gamespot, the reasoning behind the Killen hire, “We made a conscious decision to hire a writer not known for sci-fi and not known for big battle movies or anything. Because that’s already baked into the Halo franchise and we will service that. But we also want to ensure that we get underneath the formidable armor of the Spartans.”

When the project was first announced, Rupert Wyatt was tabbed to helm the Halo TV show. But as time went on, Wyatt was unable to invest the time needed, so he moved on. After two months without a director, in stepped Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood). He will direct a number of episodes while also serving as an executive producer.

While Steven Spielberg’s name has been tossed around in conjunction with the Halo TV show for years, it’s actually his Amblin Entertainment company that is on board as one of the series production studios. True, Spielberg was set to executive produce the project back in 2013, but his level of involvement with this updated Halo TV version is not known.

PREMIERE DATE FOR THE HALO SERIES

There is no exact premiere date set for the Halo TV show, though Deadline has confirmed it will release in the first quarter of 2022. As of early 2021, the show was filming in Budapest, Hungary. The network also has announced the Halo series will be nine episodes (down from ten) and each episode will be an hour long.