Peter Jackson In the Ring for Halo

After taking on the monumental task of adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings literary saga and remaking the cinematic classic King Kong, filmmaker Peter Jackson is set to tackle one of the biggest video game franchises ever. Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox announced today that Jackson and his producing partner, Fran Walsh, will serve as the exec producers on HALO, the upcoming feature film based on the best-selling Microsoft video games developed by Bungie Studios.

While Jackson is not directing HALO, he and Walsh will provide creative consulting on all aspects of the film through their WingNut Films banner. In addition, Jackson’s Oscar-winning Weta Digital Ltd. and Weta Workshop Ltd. will provide creatures, miniatures and other visual effects for the production, which will be filmed entirely in Jackson’s hometown of Wellington, New Zealand.

Slated for release in 2007, HALO is being produced by Mary Parent (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Scott Stuber (The Skeleton Key), with Peter Schlessel (Stay Alive). Parent is also exec producing the upcoming animated features Where the Wild Things, directed by Spike Jonze, and The Tale of Despereaux, helmed by Triplets of Belleville director Sylvain Chomet.

After Fox, led by president Hutch Parker, and Universal, led by production president Donna Langley, acquired the feature film rights to HALO and will oversee the production for their respective studios, along with Microsoft.

The studios worked in conjunction with Schlessel to audition a number of producers for Microsoft and Bungie. Universal will handle domestic distribution of the film, and Fox will handle the international release.

“As a gaming fan, I’m excited to bring HALO‘s premise, action and settings to the screen with all the specificity and reality today’s technology can provide,” Jackson comments. “Fran and I are intrigued by the unique challenges this project offers, and we’re delighted to be working again with our friends at Universal, and with our new ones at Fox and Microsoft. I’m a huge fan of the game and look forward to helping it come alive on the cinema screen.”

“Peter Jackson is one of Hollywood’s most exciting innovators, and our partnership with him will greatly broaden the appeal of the HALO franchise,” adds Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect. “We’re confident he’ll create an epic that not only thrills existing HALO fans, but also introduces millions of moviegoers around the world to this amazing saga.”

The original script for the Halo movie was written by acclaimed screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later), and a director will be announced soon. Meanwhile, Jackson is busy in post-production on King Kong, which is scheduled to arrive in theaters on Dec. 14.

The first Halo video game was released in 2001 and spawned a hugely successful sequel, Halo 2, in 2004. Together, the titles have sold more than 13.8 million copies worldwide and grossed more than $600 million. Halo 2 alone earned $125 million in first-day sales.