The wildly popular video game franchise Halo is finally getting a cinematic adaptation. Showtime announced today that it has given a 10-episode order for a live-action Halo TV series, with Kyle Killen (Lone Star, Awake) serving as executive producer, writer, and showrunner and Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) directing multiple installments. Oh, and the show hails from Microsoft/343 Industries and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television.
The hourlong series will chronicle the epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant, weaving “deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined version of the future.”
If you’re feeling a bit of déjà vu, well Showtime ordered a Halo TV series back in 2014. The show was in development, with Spielberg attached as executive producer, but it fell by the wayside as #PeakTV led to an incredibly crowded marketplace. Xbox eventually created a live-action digital series of its own starring Mike Colter and executive produced by Ridley Scott. You’ll also recall that a feature film adaptation was in the works even earlier, with Peter Jackson producing and Neill Blomkamp making his feature directorial debut. The project fell apart over creative differences with Microsoft, and Blomkamp and Jackson put their energy into crafting District 9 instead.
But with Homeland potentially coming to an end and Twin Peaks: The Return in the rearview, Showtime apparently feels the time is right to finally add Halo to its lineup.
Filming on the Halo TV series isn’t set to begin until early 2019, so this one may not even premiere until 2020. But a 10-episode commitment is a big deal—Showtime is bypassing the traditional pilot format. And Killen is one of the most exciting writer/producers in TV, having spearheaded two network shows—Lone Star and Awake—that were ahead of their time in terms of telling complex, serialized stories.
Showtime president David Nevins described the project as the most ambitious that the network has ever attempted:
“Halo is our most ambitious series ever, and we expect audiences who have been anticipating it for years to be thoroughly rewarded. In the history of television, there simply has never been enough great science fiction. Kyle Killen’s scripts are thrilling, expansive and provocative, Rupert Wyatt is a wonderful, world-building director, and their vision of Halo will enthrall fans of the game while also drawing the uninitiated into a world of complex characters that populate this unique universe.”
Every network right now is searching for “the next Game of Thrones.” Amazon just paid $250 million for the rights to make a Lord of the Rings series, and even HBO has a Watchmen series and multiple Game of Thrones spinoffs in development. Now Showtime is entering the ring with a tentpole series of its own, and this could be a very, very big deal.