At the end of September, the Halo movie seemed to be right on track. Its executive producer, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, had been a featured speaker at Microsoft's X06 event in Barcelona, Spain. There, he talked up the multimillion-dollar sci-fi epic, which was being directed by novice Neill Blomkamp from a script by Alex Garland (28 Days Later) and D.B. Weiss.
What a difference a month makes. Earlier this month, Universal and Fox--the two Hollywood studios cofinancing the project along with Microsoft--backed out of the project after failing to renegotiate the profit-sharing scheme for the film. It had been slated for a summer 2008 release.
Despite the setback, Microsoft put on a brave face. "Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and the rest of the creative team are dedicated to ensuring the Halo movie becomes a reality," the company said in a statement on October 20. "We are already in discussions with potential partners who recognize the value of the Halo brand and its appeal to consumers worldwide."
Apparently the aforementioned discussions didn't go so well. This week, WingNut Films, Jackson's production company, announced that the release of Halo has been pushed back indefinitely. "At this time Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, along with Microsoft, have mutually agreed to postpone making a feature film based on the Halo video game universe until we can fulfill the promise we made to millions of Halo fans...of bringing a first class film to the big screen," read a statement sent out to numerous media outlets by WingNut.
Jackson and Walsh confirmed that Blomkamp would remain on board, praising him as a "tremendously gifted filmmaker" and calling his work on the project "truly awe-inspiring." However, the WingNut statement gave no date for the Master Chief's big-screen debut. "While it will undoubtedly take a little longer for Halo to reach the big screen, we are confident that the final feature film will be well worth the wait," read the statement.
While Blomkamp is sticking with Halo, neither Garland nor Weiss are currently involved with the project. According to the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, the film's script was being rewritten for a third time by Josh Olson, who received a 2006 Academy Award nomination for penning A History of Violence.