Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, the creative duo behind the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the upcoming “King Kong,” will serve as executive producers of a movie based on Microsoft’s blockbuster “Halo” video game.
Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, the companies behind the project, hope to be in production in the spring with an eye for a summer 2007 worldwide release. No director is attached, though one is expected to come aboard shortly.
Jackson and Walsh will give creative input on all aspects of the film via their WingNut Films banner. Jackson’s New Zealand-based Weta companies will provide creatures, miniatures and visual effects for the production.
This marks the first time that Jackson and Walsh have performed these services on a major studio film that Jackson is not directing. It also extends Jackson’s relationship with Universal, for which he made the upcoming “King Kong.”
“It’s been a great two years,” Universal chairman Stacey Snider said in an interview. “There’s a great respect, and it’s been creatively rewarding. It’s amazing when you’re down there to see the talent, dedication and resources.”
Although his effects houses have been overrun for the past eight years with the “Lord of the Rings” and “King Kong” movies, Jackson had always hoped that other filmmakers would use their expertise. Universal approached Jackson about “Halo,” unaware that he was a huge fan of the game. His excitement led him and Walsh to become “creative godfathers” on the film, allowing them to be involved creatively while also securing a major assignment for his studios.
The involvement of Jackson and Walsh puts more cooks in the kitchen for “Halo,” which already has several parties who have considerable input. Fox and Universal teamed up in the summer to acquire the feature rights after lengthy negotiations from game creator Bungie Studios and its Microsoft parent. Microsoft hired Alex Garland (”28 Days Later”) to write the screenplay and will have consultants on the production, along with will Bungie.
“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,” Jackson said. “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.” with
The movie will be shot entirely in the New Zealand capital of Wellington, with a budget of more than $100 million. Universal will handle domestic distribution and Fox international.
“Halo” debuted in 2001, quickly establishing itself as one of the top games. The game, and its 2004 follow-up, “Halo 2,” have sold a combined 13.8 million copies worldwide and grossed more then $600 million. In November, “Halo 2” shattered records with $125 million in first-day sales.