The Halo Movie: Why It Didn’t Happen And Why Halo Is On TV Instead

Why the Halo movie never happened and why fans are getting a Halo TV show instead.

By Liana Keane | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

On November 15th, 2001 Microsoft released Halo: Combat Evolved. Developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios, the game was first released for the Xbox console. In 2003, Microsoft released versions for Windows and Mac OS. 

Since then, Microsoft has released Halo 2 and Halo 3 as part of the Halo Trilogy. These sci-fi based first-person shooter games became popular around the world. In fact, the number of copies sold is 6.43 million copies of Halo: Combat Evolved, 8.49 million copies of Halo 2, and 11.87 million copies of Halo 3

The Halo trilogy became so popular that Microsoft went to work on a Halo movie back in 2005. Problem is, fourteen years later, no Halo movie. 

Want to know what happened? In this article, we explore why the Halo movie never happened and why fans are getting a Halo TV show instead. We will also discuss whether or not the film might still happen in the future. 

Halo movie

Microsoft Starts Work On A Halo Movie

After the success of Halo 2, Microsoft wanted more for the Halo series. Microsoft’s plan involved turning the game into a movie. They knew they had something big on their hands. As such, they could make lots of cash from box office sales. Not only that, a Halo movie would increase sales for their Xbox consoles.

To actualize its Halo movie dream, Microsoft commissioned the writing of a full Halo movie script.  They paid 28 Days Later screenwriter Alex Garland a whopping $1 million to complete the script and he delivered. Microsoft supervised the screenplay because they wanted to make sure it was about their successful Halo game series. 

Alex Garland was hired to write the Halo movie script in February 2005 and finished the first draft in June of the same year. In 2005 the title of the first movie, Halo, and the script were ready. Various producers and directors were also attached to the film.

Microsoft approached Creative Artists Agency about its Halo movie ambitions. An auction was set by CAA agents Roland Emmerich and Michael Wimer. After Michael Wimer had the Halo script, he contacted major studios and requested them to bid. 

To up the ante actors dressed as Halo’s main character Master Chief visited the offices of Creative Artists Agency to pick up and deliver scripts to major Hollywood studios. Around midday on June 6th, 2005, they arrived at the studios in their red, blue, and green Spartan armor. 

It was Larry Shapiro at CAA who came up with idea that the messengers dress in Master Chief’s armor. He wanted the Halo deal to make headlines and this stunt seemed like a sure way to make that happen. Each of the Master Chiefs had a red bound folder with the Creative Artists Agency logo on it. In the folder there were two things: a terms sheet and a copy of the script/screenplay commissioned by Microsoft. These red bound folders got delivered to Fox, Universal, Paramount, and others. No script was delivered to Columbia because it is owned by direct Microsoft competitor Sony.

After the delivery of the scripts, they (the various Master Chiefs) waited outside while Studio Execs read the screenplay.  Each studio had 24 hours to read the script. Each script came with a term sheet. Since Microsoft was unfamiliar with Hollywood’s culture, they wanted to dictate the terms. Simply put, they planned to make a killing from turning their game into a movie.

The clock was ticking. Everyone wanted to know if Hollywood would be ready to make an offer. As the deal of the century, everyone expected that the Halo movie would take over Hollywood just like the games took over their industry. 

Every studio responded, but they tried to negotiate the terms. Only Fox responded with a “Yes” on the term sheet without negotiating. 

Halo's master chief

What Happened to the Halo Movie? 

Microsoft wanted $10 million for 15% of the box office gross sales. This is in addition to a $75 million budget. They also wanted to have a fast-tracked production and demanded creative approval over the director and cast. 

The demands did not stop there. Microsoft requested 60 first-class plane tickets for its employees and guests to attend the Halo movie premiere. These were significant demands outside the norm for Hollywood culture. Mind you, Microsoft was not putting any of its money in production. All they were paying is the $1 million already paid for Alex Garland to write the script/screenplay. 

Additionally, the company was not willing to sign over any of the Halo merchandising rights. It was due to Microsoft’s enormous demands that Paramount and others stayed out of the fray. Eventually Fox and Universal decided to jointly fund the movie. The agreement between Fox and Universal was that Fox would take foreign box office revenue while Universal took the domestic box office revenue. 

Unfortunately Fox and Universal soon realized that Microsoft was simply too greedy. The numbers didn’t work out. The amount of profit left for Fox and Universal after Microsoft skimmed off the best parts simply wasn’t enough to move forward with the Halo film.

Simply put, greed killed the Halo movie. 

Cortana for the Halo Movie

The Halo Movie That Almost Was

Alex Garland’s Halo movie script laid out a storyline which was basically the entire plot of the original Halo game. The Master Chief, assisted by an AI called Cortana, would fight the Covenant while attempting to save the human race from being pulverized. The story was a direct adaptation of exactly what happened in Halo: Combat Evolved.

Several filmmakers wanted to be part of the Halo movie project. Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings movies, came on board as a producer in October 2005. Neill Blomkamp (who would later be known for the movie District 9) was to direct the film.

Before Neill, Guillermo del Toro had also been in negotiations. Del Toro passed on the Halo movie opportunity to work on Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. Neil got picked instead. Lord of the Rings special effects gurus WETA Workshop were chosen to handle the Halo movie’s effects. 

When Neill Blomkamp got hired to direct the Halo movie, he wanted to do something different. Instead of what Microsoft wanted, he wanted a cyberpunk kind of film. He spent five months at WETA coming up with a rewrite for the screenplay. But, Fox did not like the idea and they also knew Microsoft would hate it. 

Despite Fox and Microsoft’s objections, the developers of Halo, Bungie, loved the cyberpunk style Blomkamp planned for film. But due to greed and disagreements from everyone else, Blomkamp’s vision died along with the rest of the project.

Master Chief in a movie

Halo’s Future As A Movie

In 2010, DreamWorks briefly wanted to take a stab at making the Halo movie. Just as Neil had a different vision for the film, DreamWorks also wanted to explore the Halo novels instead of the games. The idea was to sidestep Microsoft and its ties to the game entirely. Sadly, after a few months, they abandoned the idea. 

At the moment, there are no plans to make a Halo movie. But, fans got a taste of live-action adaptation of Halo. A web series for Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn was released followed by DVDs and Blu-ray. 

Fans can also enjoy Halo: Nightfall via streaming devices and DVD copies. Although the failure to make the Halo movie was a disappointment to the fans, the game is still exciting. But, it would have been interesting to watch the Neil Blomkamp cyberpunk style movie. 

Cortana on Showtime show

Halo: The TV Show On Showtime

The Halo TV series had been stuck in limbo since 2013, but finally fans will get to watch it. According to PCGamer, the Halo TV show is heading to Showtime. The series will be produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television. 

Production began in Budapest in late 2019, and the release date for the Halo show is set in 2021. Pablo Schreiber will play the role of Master Chief. Other cast members include Natascha McElhone as Dr Catherine Hasley and AI Cortana. Halo: The Series also has Bokeem Woodbine as Soren-066 and Shabana Azmi as Admiral Margaret Parangosky. 

The Halo TV series will have 1 hour-long episodes, and the show will focus on the franchise’s origins. Microsoft and 343 Industries are also involved in the project, and hopefully, Microsoft will allow the pros to do their work.

Rumor has it that the new Halo TV show will actually uses a lot of the storyline from the original Halo game while introducing exciting new elements. It will star, of course, Halo’s superstar the Master Chief. You can bet he’ll still spend most of his time battling the Covenant.