Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Best video game movie ever?


Microsoft, film studios tap Jackson for 'Halo'

Tue Oct 04, 2:05 PM ET

The Oscar-winning creative team behind the "The Lord of the Rings" films, including director Peter Jackson, has been named to run the production of the upcoming film based on Microsoft Corp.'s blockbuster "Halo" video game, the company said on Tuesday.

Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh, will serve as the executive producers for "Halo," which is targeted for worldwide release in mid-2007 by Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox film studios.

Universal will oversee the film's production and domestic distribution. Fox will handle international distribution.

"Halo" will be shot in Wellington, New Zealand, and will use Jackson's production and post-production facilities there.

"I'm a huge fan of the game and look forward to helping it come alive on the cinema screen," Jackson said in a statement.

The executive producers will collaborate with Universal, Fox and Microsoft's Bungie Studios, which created the game.

"Halo," the best-selling franchise for Microsoft's Xbox game console, follows the adventures of the futuristic super-soldier "Master Chief" as he battles an alien onslaught.

Screenwriter and novelist Alex Garland wrote the original feature film adaptation of Halo. A director will be named in coming weeks, but the cast has yet to be announced.

Jackson and Walsh are currently in post-production on Universal's "King Kong," slated for release in December. This is the first time that the duo are acting as executive producers on a major film that Jackson is not directing.

The video game industry -- whose sales rival those of the U.S. box office -- is gaining stature, taming the industry's maverick image and moving closer to Hollywood. By the time of its release, "Halo" will join other video-game inspired films such as "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," "Resident Evil," and "Doom." But the industry's Hollywood inroads have not been without bumps.

Hollywood's major film studios gave Microsoft a cool reception last spring when the company came to them with an initially high asking price for "Halo" -- the script which was delivered by laser-gun toting costumed messengers.

As part of their deal with the global software giant and No. 2 video game console maker, Universal and Fox will pay Microsoft $5 million plus a percentage of movie ticket sales. The price is capped at 10 percent of domestic box office receipts.

Universal Pictures is operated by the NBC Universal media division of General Electric Co., and is co-owned by Vivendi Universal. Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp Ltd..

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