Given that there’s original content on streaming services Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix, it was only a matter of time before the game consoles got in on the action. Today during an overlong and somewhat confusing press conference for the new Xbox system (unimaginatively dubbed Xbox One,) it was announced that Steven Spielberg would be exec-producing an original television series for Xbox’s Xbox Live streaming service based on the phenomenally popular series of “Halo” videogames. The series will be produced in conjunction with game studio 343 Studios.
Way back in 2005, work began on a “Halo” feature film, originally written by “28 Days Later” scribe Alex Garland (and subsequently reworked by D.B. Weiss and Josh Olson, both in an effort to subdue the astronomical budget). The film was going to be a co-production between Fox and Universal, executive produced by Peter Jackson and directed by eventual “District 9” filmmaker Neil Blomkamp (he later noted that the project “was a clusterfuck from day one”). Hiccups with the budget and the extravagant “first dollar” deals for Jackson and producer Peter Schlessel, led to the collapse of the project, although every so often talks of its resurrection surface (an animated movie, “Halo Legends,” was released on home video in 2010.)
But Spielberg producing a “Halo” TV series – to air on the machine that also plays the game – is pretty big news. Spielberg has been a longtime fan of videogames (in the video that was part of the presentation he said he was one of the first to play “Pong,“) releasing the very wonderful Wii game “Boom Blox” back in 2008 and obviously having a number of his properties adapted for videogame format). The story of “Halo,” which includes an intrepid space commando named Master Chief, who battles a race of evil aliens called The Covenant, is an inherently dramatic one, and should work for whatever format they ultimately choose for the television series.
The latest game in the “Halo” series, “Halo 4,” was released this past summer. Spielberg’s next television project, an adaptation of Stephen King‘s “Under the Dome,” starts airing on June 24th.