Halo gets new start?
So everyone is excited about the fact that Stuart Beattie has written a speculative script for a possible Halo film, and the references to three attempted scripts from three different scriptwriters on the doomed project have been made to make us think that this one could have a chance, after all he wrote the Gears of War script which is on its way.
Hold on a minute though, did the film fail to get made because of the script? No, that wasn't the final reason cited by the parties involved.
The story first came from Latino Review, right in the middle of the April Fools rubbish, a time designed to trick you into believing the rubbish that people tell you, and yet this one wasn't. Stuart Beattie had written a script for a film called Halo: Fall of Reach, based on the novel by Eric Nylund.
Now there's been no request for the screenplay, and nothing paid to Beattie, he's done this off his own back, and that's why it's called speculative, because he hopes that the studios will buy it and that he'll get some money back.
However let's take a look back at the story that came out when the studios dropped Halo originally and see why it was dropped.
“The two financing studios, Universal and Fox, were apparently concerned about the rising cost of production, US$135million - which is a mere US$67.5million each. Whereas the filmmakers are saying that both studios exerted pressure to try and get Microsoft to reduce their deal for a cut of the profits.”
Basically the rising budget got too much for the studios who were concerned that the budget was getting bigger than the profits would be, and is that something that's changed since then? Has there been a videogame adaptation that has proved them wrong since? Not yet, but I think Gears of War might just do that if the studio keeps going with it.
So the problem wasn't the script, it was the budget. Of course the script influences the budget with its set pieces and epic scenes, and if they could cut them all down then great, but suddenly it wouldn't be Halo, Halo is epic, Halo is grand.
That said, the story has an outline of the script that, at the end of the outline, does address some budgetary concerns, and suggests that maybe this script could cut down those epic, grand scenes to ensure that the cost is low. Sure, but once again, that's not really what Halo is.
“The script is, first and foremost, a character-driven story about a soldier named John who was kidnapped or "conscripted" by the UNSC when he was just six years old, and then brutally trained to become an elite Spartan warrior known as Master Chief 117.
The script then takes us through the horrific first contact with the Covenant hordes on the doomed colony world of Harvest, and then climaxes with the spectacular fall of the UNSC forward base on Reach, during which every other Spartan is slaughtered.
The script also gives detailed outlines for the second movie, HALO: RISE OF THE FLOOD, which takes place entirely on the Halo ringworld, and the third and final movie, HALO: BATTLE FOR EARTH, which roughly follows the events of Halo 3, the game.
One cool advantage of this first script is that (like the shark in JAWS) you don't even see the Covenant until halfway through the movie. And because all the creatures are CGI creations, this cuts the budget down dramatically and makes a first Halo movie that much more viable. For Halo fans, it's like the prequel that provides all the answers to questions they've thought about for years. For non Halo fans, it's an exciting action movie that provides a clear, concise introduction to a world five hundred years in the future with relatable characters and a terrifying alien menace.”
Not seeing the Covenant until halfway through the film? Wow, that surely does rip back the budget, but also what Halo is about. Wouldn't that start hitting on the Halo fans?
Looking at it another way, Microsoft retain heavy control of the Halo franchise, you'll remember that they have a bible that they were touting round the studios initially, something that describes the universe of Halo in great detail and what can and can't be done. Well that could be a big stumbling block.
Microsoft's and Bungie's involvement and Halo bible caused a lot of friction to begin with, and the script would still have to get by them, and then there's the studios to take on again and get them signed up to Microsoft's ways, because they're not about to change them, and would they be willing to have the Covenant appear halfway through the film? Would you?
I'm not so sure that this script is the saviour that everyone's thinking it is. Budget and Microsoft are the issues here, not so much the script. Beattie's script sounds like it's taking Halo more towards Gears of War which concentrates more on characters and relationships, a gritty close up battle rather than the panned back Halo view of a war, will fans appreciate that shift?