Variety reports that Universal and Fox have backed out of an agreement to co-finance the Halo movie, leaving the film stuck in pre-production hell. The studios dropped out before an October 15 deadline to give Microsoft a $5 million payment, citing concern over the film’s budget, which was looking to soar far higher than the earlier $135 million estimate/goal.
Rumors of a budget that could approach $200 million raged Thursday, but Ken Kamins, who reps Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, vehemently denied that figure. The duo came aboard as exec producers, joining powerhouse producers Mary Parent, Scott Stuber and Peter Schlessel.
“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 said. “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 (the studio that designed the original game), respectfully declined.”
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.
Here’s a news report about the story: