Fox and Universal thought they'd be sneaky and play a little base, I-uhh, hardball with Bungie and Microsoft by serving up a last-minute request to have the software companies reduce their profit participation. Though some thought it would work, especially with 'exaggerated' rumors on the film's rising budget, it looks like Fox and Universal forget that the Xbox also has the ability to reset. Whoops, game over!
(hell, at least it's better than that damn 'standby' hack... effin cheaters)
Halo Loses Fox and Universal
When Microsoft/Bungie got 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures to jump on board the project to co-finance the film, things were looking good. The only (early) problem was some of the figures presented on the paperwork; or was it by mouth?
According to Variety, Fox and Universal delivered an ultimatum to Microsoft requesting that they lower their profit participation. This ultimatum came right before the studios were supposed to kick over the $5 million upfront payment for rights to the film. To put a little more Apple IIGS software on the fire, Microsoft also stood to receive 10% of gross for rights to the game and a script by Alex Garland; cha-ching!
Recent rumors have driven a Covenant Energy Sword between the software company and the studios claiming that the budget has increased beyond what was originally agreed upon.
"The only budget the filmmakers every 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," Kamins (Peter Jackson's rep) said. "That was the only number that was ever discussed."
Fox and Universal responded with the tried-but-true, "Yeah, sure story."
"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 (the studio that designed the original game), respectfully declined."
Here is where Fox and Universal went wrong: It is impossible to pressure a company who KNOWS they have an audience. All Bungie has to do is check out Xbox Live! stats and pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
If you are a Halo fan, dry your eyes. It is going to take more than Fox and Universal's exist to doom this adaptation.
While the exit of two studios would seem to imperil Halo, Kamins said Microsoft is already in talks with other distribution partners. Prep work on the film continues, he said. One advantage is having Jackson and Walsh as exec producers: Most of the pre-production is being done at their visual effects studios in New Zealand, Weta Digital and Weta Workshop, so there will be no stoppage.
Stay tuned for updates.