Halo goes Hollywood in '07

Microsoft and movie magnates Fox and Universal reconfirm 2007 target date; film based on Xbox's biggest seller set for that summer.

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If all goes according to plan, Master Chief may be accepting an Academy Award in January 2008. Variety (subscription required) is reporting that Fox and Universal have targeted the summer of 2007 for one of the small screen's biggest heroes to make his anticipated debut on the big screen.

The Bungie-developed Halo franchise, which has seen more than $600 million in sales since 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved, owns claim to the top two best-selling Xbox games of all time. Halo 2, released in November 2004, eclipsed $125 million in sales on its first day of release. With such impressive numbers, the property caught Hollywood's eye, leaving many to speculate that a movie deal would be imminent.

However, negotiating a movie deal proved as challenging as taking down a Covenant dropship, as several studios surprisingly passed on producing a Halo movie. The reason: Film studios may be used to kowtowing to A-list actors' demands, but they don't typically cave in to requests from non-Hollywood players. Initial reports saw the software giant asking for $10 million against 15 percent of the gross (whichever is higher), a below-the-line budget of $75 million (budget before hiring actors and crew), near-immediate production of the movie, and a large say in the creative development of the movie.

Fox and Universal eventually bent and accepted the project, paying Microsoft $5 million against 10 percent of the gross. Universal will oversee production and domestic distribution, and Fox will handle all overseas operations.

Peter Schlessel (American Gun) will produce the flick, which was scribed by author Alex Garland. Garland, whose previous credits include the novel and film adaptation of The Beach and zombie-horror film 28 Days Later, was reportedly paid $1 million for the Bungie-approved script.

The deal gives several Bungie employees "extensive consultation" on the project, but it doesn't give them final word.

"Our conversations in the last few weeks focused on the level of collaboration needed to bring this complex property to life," Peter Moore, marketing and publishing VP for Microsoft's Xbox, told Variety. "Ultimately, Universal is the expert responsible for making a powerfully commercial movie palatable to our demographic."

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