EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Shane Salerno to write the screenplay for Gears Of War, the big-scale live-action adaptation of Microsoft Studios’ iconic Xbox video game franchise. Universal-based Dylan Clark is producing.
Universal and Microsoft announced their collaboration on the game in late 2016. At the time, Rod Fergusson, head of Microsoft subsidiary The Coalition that develops new Gears Of War content and the franchise co-creator, said the film would not be based on any particular game but instead be a new story set in the universe. That universe is the fictional planet of Sera, where a squad of beefed-up commandos living in a bombed-out postapocalyptic society battle swarms of alien creatures called Locusts.
The first game, developed by Epic and released in 2006, has spawned sequels that have put the game series at north of $1 billion in grosses. It is considered one of the most iconic video game success stories that defined the first generation of HD gaming and is played by more than 45 million gamers worldwide. Microsoft acquired the franchise in 2014, when co-creator Fergusson returned to lead The Coalition, the Microsoft development studio focused exclusively on Gears Of War.
Salerno’s current writing credits include the four sequels to Avatar for director James Cameron, which begin shooting in August, as well as writing and producing The Cartel for Ridley Scott to direct at 20th Century Fox, based on the bestselling Don Winslow novel. That film is eyeing a tentative January production start. His other credits include the Michael Bay-directed Armageddon and the Oliver Stone-directed Savages.
Gears Of War Ultimate Edition was released for Xbox One and Windows 10 in late 2015. Per Microsoft, it has seen more 3 million players since then, with more than half new to the franchise. Gears of War 4 launched October 11 as Microsoft’s holiday tentpole release for Xbox One and Windows 10.
Universal EVP Production Jon Mone is overseeing for Universal and Marc Sachnoff will oversee the project for Xbox. Salerno is represented by CAA and Sloane Offer.