We should have seen this coming as soon as Peter Jackson hired a nobody to direct it. Bad news gaming fans, the Halo movie is close to dead.

Microsoft was having Halo financed through a two-studio partnership with Fox and Universal. Now both studios, all at once, have backed right out. Variety says it may be the budget that had them worried, the pricetag was reportedly rocketing past the original $135 million they'd agreed to. $200 million was the rumor in the wind. Peter Jackson's rep Ken Kamins insists it was only $145 million.

Whatever the real budget, it was too much for Universal and Fox to handle. Both studios played it tough and tried to get Microsoft to reduce their financial burden. They met with Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, who then consulted with gamemaker Bungie and rejected their proposal to make the movie with a smaller budget. Universal and Fox decided to take their toys and go home.

Look, it couldn't have helped that PJ hired unknown quantity Neill Blumkamp for the movie's directors chair. Hollywood studios get really nervous when you ask them to hand over record setting amounts of money over to a 27-year-old kid who's never directed anything more significant than a short. If Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson wants $200 million to make a film, you let them have it. If Neill Blumkamp asks for it, you laugh and then say "what, you were serious?"

If there's any good news here (and there's not much), it's that Microsoft would rather not make the movie than settle for something substandard. God knows we've had enough substandard videogame adaptations. Better nothing than something inferior.

So where does this leave Halo? Stalled for the foreseeable future. Peter Jackson's people say the movie will move forward, and that they'll take it to production. How they'll do that without any money is anyone's guess.

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