Xbox is stepping up its efforts to become an original programming player in the digital space with its first development slate, which includes dramas, live-action and animated comedies, unscripted and event series. The company first signaled its entrance into original programming at the unveiling of Xbox One a year ago when Xbox Entertainment Studios president Nancy Tellem announced a drama series based on the popular video game Halo with Steven Spielberg executive producing. That project is still in a development/deal-making stage, but Xbox is moving forward with several other game titles which it plans to turn into series — both scripted and unscripted — Age Of Empires, State Of Decay, Fable, Forza Motorsport and Gears Of War. The announcement was made at a presentation Tellem and Xbox’s newly appointed EVP Jordan Levin held last week. The two also confirmed that a second Halo digital feature, a follow-up to Forward Unto Dawn, is going into production next month with Ridley Scott producing and Sergio Mimica-Gezzan directing.
Xbox Entertainment Studios’ development slate includes script orders to Deadlands, a genre-bending alternative history of the Weird West based on the successful pen-and-paper role-playing game created by Shane Lacy Hensley; and to Gun Machine, a hardboiled detective thriller based on the bestselling novel by Warren Ellis, with Brett Conrad (The Killing) set to write the script and exec produce alongside Ellis. On the comedy side, Xbox Entertainment Studios has ordered a pilot for a comedy/variety half-hour project with JASH, a comedy collective founded by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim and Eric and Reggie Watts. In each episode, a different comedian will host a show featuring someone that makes them laugh, with the pilot, hosted by Silverman, set to begin filming in June. Xbox Entertainment Studios also has teamed with Seth Green and Matt Senreich, creators of stop-animation series Robot Chicken, for Extraordinary Believers, a hybrid stop-motion/live-action improv series, which is filming a pilot. On the unscripted side, the company has ordered a pilot for Fearless, starring Paul de Gelder, an Australian Navy bomb clearance diver and shark attack survivor who helps people that are risking their lives to make the world a better place. On the event series front, Xbox has Winterworld, a limited live-action series based on IDW Entertainment’s graphic novel series. (more…)