The last time somebody tried to adapt the game franchise Halo into a TV show, the result was the mediocre digital series Halo: Nightfall. But now Showtime is giving the franchise the prestige pay-cable treatment, greenlighting a new TV series based on the game. Network president and CEO David Nevins is calling it “our most ambitious series ever.”
The network has ordered a 10-episode first season for Halo, with Awake creator Kyle Killen serving as showrunner. Filmmaker Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the recent Exorcist TV series) is scheduled to direct several episodes of the series, which is expected to begin production in early 2019. Plot details are thin, with the press release simply stating that the show will be “dramatizing an epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant.”
Halo has been eyed as a big opportunity for Hollywood ever since the game franchise debuted in 2001 with Halo: Combat Evolved. At one point, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson was attached to produce a feature film adaptation, with an early draft written by Ex Machina and Annihilation writer-director Alex Garland. Guillermo del Toro was once in talks to direct, before Neill Blomkamp joined the project. At another point, Game of Thrones co-creator D.B. Weiss worked on the script. Eventually, the project fell apart, with Blomkamp going on to direct his acclaimed debut feature District 9 instead.
The show’s television ambitions roared to life in 2013, when Microsoft announced it was developing an adaptation in collaboration with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment as part of its Xbox Live original content plans. A year later, Showtime joined that project, and Xbox shut down its original television division altogether. Xbox Live eventually got Halo: Nightfall out of the deal, but in spite of the pedigree of being executive produced by Ridley Scott, that project was ultimately received as nothing more than a glorified webseries.
Showtime, on the other hand, seems to view the property as an opportunity to craft its own epic science-fiction series, at a time when HBO has shows like Westworld, Netflix has Altered Carbon, and Amazon has rescued The Expanse. Whether there’s actually an audience for a TV series based on Halo is another question. No release date has been set.