The Canceled 'Halo' Movie Was Mayhem Behind The Scenes
In 2007, Halo 3 was set to be the hottest game of the year. It was the first Halo for the Xbox 360, and Microsoft dumped an estimated $40 million into marketing the game just to get the console to sell better. But they didn’t have to worry; Halo was so successful its release hurt box office numbers because people wanted to buy and play the game more than they wanted to go watch The Darjeeling Limited. (Setting off the bitter Wes Anderson/Bill Gates blood feud that has claimed so many lives.)
One of the coolest marketing gimmicks for Halo 3 was a series of live-action shorts released to promote the game called Halo: Landfall. Fans of the franchise will probably remember Landfall’s realistic, gritty mission footage and excellent special effects since at the time there was nothing really like it. The shorts were well-received by fans who appreciated seeing their favorite monsters, vehicles, and weapons brought a little closer to the real world.
What fans didn’t know was that they almost got to see all of that on the big screen. Landfall was originally slated to be a full-length Halo movie directed by Neill Blomkamp. At the time Neill Blomkamp had gained some following for Yellow and Alive in Joburg, but this would have been his first big-budget action movie, and he was stoked for it since he was a big Halo fan himself.
Microsoft knew how to pick 'em, too, and hired Alex Garland to adapt the Halo movie for the screen. The writer of 28 Days Later was a big get for a movie that had already attracted the attention of Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Between Blomkamp’s direction and Garland’s scripts, the project seemed like it couldn’t fail. His script got some rewrites from D.B. Weiss, who would later become a showrunner for Game of Thrones. (Maybe don’t let him touch up the end of the scripts, though.)
Halo itself involves a war with three sides- humans, the Covenant, and the Flood- and ironically the movie was being torn apart by a similarly three-sided feud. Between Microsoft, Universal and Fox, there was no way to please every company that had staked millions on the movie.
Microsoft loved what Blomkamp did with Landfall since they wanted to stick close to the original source material. Fox hated what Landfall looked like, although it may actually have been more personal than that. Blomkamp claims that 20th Century's Co-Chairman, Tim Rothman, "-- hated me, I think he would have gotten rid of me if he could have,” and that, “The suits weren’t happy with the direction I was going." Universal, the third side of the conflict, was happy to let everyone keep working on the movie … as long as they all took a significant pay cut. And once the staff got wind of the pay cut everyone politely declined and went on to make other projects. But not before Blomkamp lost part of his ear.
Yeah, the director literally bled for this project:
"I had to have my right ear re-built with a prosthetic with plastic surgery, it completely destroyed my right ear making these shorts," he told Game Informer. While riding in the Warthog, they hit a bump, and Blomkamp, “-- was thrown right into the gun. So the lockdown rotating gun, which is solid steel gear, mind you, and it just offs a piece of my ear.”
But if you want to see traces of that Halo movie you still can. There’s Landfall obviously, but Blomkamp took some of the props from the Landfall set and used them in a movie released in 2009. His biggest hit ever, District 9.
Top Image: Microsoft