If video games such as Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil can become big budget semi-blockbuster Hollywood movies, then why not Microsoft's Halo? It would seem that a Halo film backed by the biggest studios in the business would be a foregone conclusion, and while a movie based on the series was in the works several years ago with some major names attached to it, the project eventually imploded and everyone involved moved on. What could cause a guaranteed moneymaker like Halo: The Movie to go unproduced? Wired's Game|Life has a chapter from the new Generation Xbox: How Video Games Invaded Hollywood by Jamie Russell that explains how it all went wrong. In one word: greed. In two words: Microsoft's greed.
According to the New York Times, Microsoft were demanding creative approval over director and cast, plus 60 first-class plane tickets for Microsoft personnel and their guests to attend the premiere. It wouldn’t be putting any money into the production itself beyond the fee paid to Garland, nor was it willing to sign over the merchandising rights. To add insult to injury, Microsoft wanted the winning studio to pay to fly one of its representatives from Seattle to LA. They would watch every cut of the movie during post-production. Clearly, Microsoft was entering into negotiations brandishing a very big stick.
Microsoft believed that it had the Hollywood studios backed into a corner. So used to getting its way, the company had the mistaken impression that it could walk into the movie world and start dictating outrageous terms. It's a shame to see how the project fell apart, but here's hoping that Microsoft learned a valuable lesson and that if it tries to launch a Halo film again in the future, it will do so with a bit more humility and a willingness to share. I once knew a scriptwriter who told me that the movie-making process is an invitation to collaborate. Creative people have to be able to leave their own small mark on the production. Moreover, if Hollywood isn't paid its due to actually make and distribute the movie, then what is its motivation? Art alone doesn't pay the bills, nor does creating art based on someone else's vision.