It seems that video game players aren’t the only ones who can lose at Halo.
Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox have backed out of a co-financing venture that would have brought the multi-million dollar franchise to the big screen.
While rumors circulated that the studios were concerned of rising production costs (an estimated $135 million budget, and then some), the real story is that both studios tired to get the filmmakers and Microsoft to reduce their profit participation.
With a deadline of Oct. 15 looming, Microsoft was to have received the bulk of a promised $5 million upfront payday. The software giant also stood to receive 10% of gross for rights to the game and a script by Alex Garland (28 Days Later).
“The only budget the filmmakers ever spoke about was $145 million less the 12.5% rebate that you get from shooting in New Zealand, which would put it at about $128 million,” said Ken Kamins, who represents the pic’s executive producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. “That was the only number that was ever discussed.
“What happened was this: Universal, on behalf of both studios, asked for a meeting with the filmmakers just prior to the due date of a significant payment. Basically, they said that in order to move forward with the film, the filmmakers had to significantly reduce their deals. They waited until the last minute to have this conversation. Peter and Fran, after speaking with their producing partners and with Microsoft and Bungee, respectfully declined.”
Kamins said Microsoft is already in talks with other distribution partners. Prep work on the film continues, he said.