Digital Polyphony

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Spinning with Halo

Posted on April 21, 2012 at 12:35 AM


Spinning with Halo


This is actually a two-parter First I will ask you to read this fantastic article:

Wired: Why the Halo Movie Failed to Launch

A very detailed piece, and a good read, of why the Halo film never got off the ground. But I also wanted to post this:

Blogger: Five Things about the Failed Halo Movie

I don't want to sound like a jerk, but this shows the difference between actual journalism and a blogger who obviously had missed the point. If you read the article, which is based off an upcoming book entitled 'Generation Xbox,' you'll see, as it details the issues about the hows and whys a Halo movie never came about (and probably never will, at least in the usual sense) that Microsoft was in over its head and couldn't realize it. Not 'didn't' realize it, because they did in a way, but 'clouldn't' fathom that realization because making movies is a hell of a lot different than creating and marketing video games and software. They didn't understand how the business worked, thought they could stroll in and simply start making demands. In fact, it clearly states it:

"The immensely powerful Microsoft had wandered into the deal naïvely expecting everyone to play by its rules and the resulting culture shock put immense strain on the Halo deal."

Then you have the blogger's interpretation, which puts the blame squarely on Fox in how it spins the article noting they demanded too much and pissed off the director. Truth is, it was a studio that was simply fed up with Microsoft's BS and pulled out by the end of the day.  It was still very, very early in the process, this was only the negotiating table, and it crashed well before it took off. I know studios can be greedy assholes, but here it's Microsoft that comes off looking bad. I found it interesting in how the blogger didn't really paint the full picture and seemed to spin it in a pro-Microsoft/anti-Fox way. For example: note the actual article details how director Neill Blomkamp (who was only attached at that point) had pressures and issues with Microsoft as well Fox, but the Microsoft portion of Blomkamps comment is conveniently left out of the blogger's piece.

"What ultimately killed the Halo movie was money. “Microsoft’s unwillingness to reduce their deal killed the deal,” says Shapiro. “Their unwillingness to reduce their gross in the deal meant it got too top-heavy. That movie could have been Avatar.”"

It's this that killed Halo. Those terms Microsoft was seeking were INSANE. 10mil against 15% Gross? Seriously? You're already getting paid for the property, not funding a thing or helping in any way and you want that much in return? Even the people actually involved in the making of a film (writers/directors/actors) rarely get something that quality - only major stars if it's a big film in the first place.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a blogger. I don't mind this blog actually because it does point out five interesting things about the article (kind of pigeon-holing it, but whatever). But it's just interesting to see something through someone else's eyes when it really is a lot more detailed and complicated than that. It's how it was spun without directly showing it. Maybe it's a passive-agressive spin, whatever that means.

I work in Hollywood, and I actually find it a bit amusing how out of their element Microsoft  found themselves. They couldn't even grasp the notion of studios working together (which happens all the time) or execs and reps actually being friendly outside of a business negotiation. I don't have anything against the company, but stories like these happen all the time, even on big projects like this and especially when people not used to how it works are intertwined in it and Microsoft being a victim as well to the presumptions of what they can and can't do is pretty humorous considering how rich that company is. If anything, not only did Microsoft not fathom their situation until it was too late, the blogger's article doesn't quite grasp the way Hollywood works either (or his commenters for that matter, who clearly put the blame on Fox) in the exact same fashion.

Keep in mind, these studios wanted to make this movie. This was going to be huge. But it didn't even get past the numbers game. Microsoft wouldn't budge. If fans really wanted a Halo movie made the way that I think they probably would like (faithful, full creative control etc...) then Microsoft could have bankrolled it themselves and made a deal with studios to utilize facilities and then set a distribution deal. But they didn't. They refused. They wanted the studios to not only pay for everything, take all the risk, but then lay out the red carpet for them as well and give them money for doing absolutely nothing.

“One of the complicating factors with Halo was that Microsoft wasn’t the normal party that you’d go off and option the IP from and make your product. Because Microsoft is such an omnipresent, powerful corporation, they weren’t just going to sit back and not take a massive cut of the profits. When you have a corporation that potent and that large taking a percentage of the profits, then you’ve got Peter Jackson taking a percentage of the profits and you start adding all of that stuff up, mixed with the fact that you have two studios sharing the profits, suddenly the return on the investment starts to decline so that it becomes not worth making. Ultimately, that’s essentially what killed the film.”

-Neill Blomkamp

Anyone who sides with Microsoft on this, and there seems to be a few here and there, have no idea how the business works. They have about as much of an idea as Microsoft or the blogger of that article did.


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