"Halo," one of the highest-grossing video game franchises in history, was, as a major motion picture, expected to bring in big bucks at the box office. But now that Fox and Universal have pulled their financing, it could be game over for the sci-fi adaptation.
The two studios had agreed to co-finance the projected $135 million project that "King Kong" and "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson was to produce, but they've backed out amid rumors that the film's budget would balloon to more than $200 million, according to a story in Variety.
The story said the studios were expected to make a $5 million upfront payment to Microsoft -- the game's maker -- by Oct. 15 and used the time leading up to that date to try to convince Microsoft and the filmmakers to take pay cuts, which they refused.
The article quoted a spokesperson for Jackson and his wife, Fran, also billed as an executive producer, as denying rumors that the budget would exceed the initial amount.
Despite losing the backing of Fox and Universal, the spokesperson said that Microsoft is already in talks with other studios, and that preparation on the film continues.
"Halo" is a near-future science-fiction action game made for the Xbox and PC that puts players in the role of Master Chief, a tough-as-nails supersoldier equipped with an array of futuristic weapons, a high-tech suit of armor and a computer-generated sidekick.
The first game, "Halo: Combat Evolved," released in 2001, was an immediate hit on the Xbox. The 2004 sequel, "Halo 2," was such a hit that it generated $125 million the day it was released.
Another sequel, "Halo 3," is one of the most anticipated games of 2007 for owners of Microsoft's next-generation video game console, Xbox 360.