Halo Delivered to Studios

Microsoft on Monday deployed a small squadron of costumed Master Chief look-alikes to deliver its approved Halo screenplay to prospective studios. Having generated upwards of $600 million in the past four years, the video game property will surely be the subject of an intense bidding war as studios vie to bring it to the big screen.

In an unusual quality control move, Microsoft hired screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later) to pen its own Halo script, rather than selling the film rights to the highest bidder and risking poor treatment of its prized franchise. Despite their popularity, so many video games have failed to make a splash in theaters due to lackluster Hollywood efforts. Flops that immediately come to mind include adaptations of Atari’s Alone in the Dark and Sega’s House of the Dead, both directed by Uwe Boll. The German filmmaker is now finishing his cinematic take on Majesco’s BloodRayne with star Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines).

According to Daily Variety, Garland was paid $1 million to craft his Halo script, which was given thumbs-up by both Microsoft execs and principals at Bungie Studios, the developer of the best-selling games. The trade also reports that Microsoft is looking for a $10 million sale and 15% of grosses.

Given its competition with Microsoft in the game sphere, Sony has been all but ruled out as a potential buyer, and genre heavyweight New Line Cinema has reportedly passed on the project. Microsoft hopes to secure a deal soon in order to get the film into production by early 2006.

Developed exclusively for Xbox, the original Halo has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide and spawned a legion of devotees who participate in competitions, tournaments and game nights. Halo 2 was released in November of 2004, grossing roughly $125 million on its first day at retail before going on to sell more than six million units.