Peter Jackson studio developing 'original' game

[UPDATE] <i>Lord of the Rings</i> director's manager says Wingnut Interactive is working on an all-new IP; Microsoft belatedly admits Halo Chronicles "on hold."

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Amongst a flurry of other news, last week's Comic-Con revealed the fate of Halo Chronicles, the mystery-shrouded interactive entertainment project from filmmaker Peter Jackson. After being revealed with great fanfare at the X06 Conference, the reportedly episodic game-movie hybrid disappeared from public view.

Jackson (l.) and Del Toro.
Jackson (l.) and Del Toro.

Though Jackson said Halo Chronicles "collapsed" when the Halo film entered development limbo nearly three years ago, its ultimate fate was apparently sealed more recently. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times yesterday, Jackson's manager Ken Kamins said the final plug wasn't pulled until just this past January as part of Microsoft's companywide downsizing. The still-officially-unacknowledged Halo massively multiplayer game was also an apparent casualty of the cuts--as was its rumored developer, Ensemble Studios.

[UPDATE] On Tuesday, Microsoft belatedly acknowledged that work on the project, which it referred to as Halo Chronicles for the first time publicly, was at a standstill. "Microsoft Game Studios is deeply committed to supporting and strategically growing the Halo franchise, and our relationship with Peter and his team is something that we greatly value," read its statement. "Given the bandwidth of both of our companies we’ve decided to put this joint effort on hold and prioritize resources against other projects like Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo Legends."

Luckily, Kamins had some good news--namely, that Jackson hasn't abandoned game development. In fact, Wingnut Interactive, the game-centric offshoot of his Wingnut Films production company, is actively crafting some new, unannounced IP.

"It was born out of this [Halo deal], but now Peter has people in Wingnut Interactive working on original intellectual property," Kamins told the Times.

The nature of the new Wingnut game entails anyone's guess. Jackson's next directorial project, The Lovely Bones (due 2010) is an unlikely suspect. Based on the Alice Sebold novel of the same name, it is a downbeat supernatural drama about the teenage victim of a serial rapist-murderer who follows her family and killer's fates from heaven.

Though the reference to "original" likely precludes any licensed IPs, Jackson is also executive-producing the two-part film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Hobbit, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy II, Pan's Labyrinth). Currently, Warner Bros., which is distributing both films domestically, holds the rights to make games based on the Lord of the Rings films. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment reps had not confirmed the publisher will be making a Hobbit game as of press time. The last game based on the book was Sierra and Inevitable Entertainment's poorly received 2003 multiplatform adventure title.

Jackson is also executive-producing the computer-generated film based on the classic Tintin comics. At the Electronic Entertainment Expo last month, Ubisoft announced it was developing games based on the project.

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