Today when Microsoft is hailing its blockbuster release Halo 3 as the fastest-selling video game of all time, raking in more than $300 million in sales since coming out last week, a top Hollywood player involved emails me this response to Keith Boesky’s comments that making the game into a movie would not attract a big audience:
“I like Keith Boesky and respect his knowledge. But his analysis re Halo The Film is way too statistical and simplistic. What he’s really saying is that only the fan base will go and that’s not enough to justify the costs. What he’s not taking into account is the possibility that the film is a great film on its own merits whether you’ve played the game or not. (How many people went to Transformers that actually played with Transformers –and that wasn’t a good film in the storytelling sense). Any Microsoft motivation to make a film will be based on that central idea — that a well-made film that works will drive additional Halo 3 sales and Xbox 360 sales.
“Keith is also wrong that the budget was the reason the film fell apart. Fox didn’t like sitting in the backseat of production while Universal was driving the bus. Fox waited til the second that Stacey Snider left for DreamWorks and then went out of their way to make the new team at Universal feel insecure about their decisions to the point where they backed off and said they should make Mummy 3 instead! Fox never liked partnering on this film. They tried going directly to Microsoft to get Universal bounced while they were still partners. Look who ended up with the licensing rights on non-film Halo products — Fox! What killed the Halo film was ego on the Fox side and timidity by the new team on the Universal side. [For more, see my previous, Universal & Fox Fighting Over ‘Halo’ $$$.]
“Finally, numbers are nice. But what those Halo 3 numbers speak to is that the release of a big video game can derail other media’s businesses. The Halo 3 launch is directly atrributable to the lacking numbers on some network TV launches, modest box office results that weekend, and derailed Knocked Up DVD sales.”