Peter Jackson executive-producing Halo movie

Director's Oscar-winning Weta Digital and Weta Workshop effects houses will create the big-screen version of the Master Chief and Covenant.

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Two weeks ago, rumors began to swirl that Peter Jackson, the auteur behind the Oscar-winning, billion-dollar-grossing Lord of the Rings trilogy, would direct the movie adaptation of Halo. GameSpot contacted the executive overseeing the project at NBC Universal, which is cofinancing Halo with Fox, to ask if the rumors had any merit. We were told bluntly that they were "completely untrue" and reported it as such.

But while it is technically correct that Jackson will not direct, he will be heavily involved in the production of Halo. Today at the X05 expo in Amsterdam, Microsoft corporate vice president of Xbox worldwide marketing and publishing Peter Moore announced that Peter Jackson and his partner and wife Fran Walsh will oversee the beloved game's transition to the big screen as executive producers. Weta Digital and Weta Workshop, which created all the Lord of the Rings effects and monsters , will be in charge of the film versions of Halo's Elites, Brutes, and Grunts. Jackson's horror background will also come in handy for re-creating the Flood's zombie hordes.

"Jackson and Walsh will provide creative counsel on all aspects of the film via their WingNut Films banner, and Jackson's award-winning companies, Weta Digital Ltd. and Weta Workshop Ltd., will provide creatures, miniatures, and visual effects for the production," said Microsoft in a statment. "The Halo agreement marks the first time that Jackson and Walsh have performed these services on a major studio film that Jackson is not directing."

"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," said Jackson in a statement. "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."

Jackson, who also addressed X05 attendees via a videotaped message, has long been known to be an avid gamer. After playing the cult hit Beyond Good & Evil, he hired its designer, Michel Ancel (Rayman), to oversee the game version of his forthcoming King Kong remake, which Universal is bankrolling.

Halo is due to hit theaters in summer of 2007, and it will be produced by Mary Parent, Scott Stuber, and Peter Schlessel. It will be based on a screenplay by 28 Days Later scribe Alex Garland. Neither stars nor a director has yet been announced.

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