HBO has Game of Thrones and Westworld. Amazon Studios has Lord of the Rings. And, now Showtime has HALO, its new TV series based on the wildly popular video game franchise of the same name. With its built-in audience of avid gamers, this could potentially be Showtime’s biggest hit yet.
Just weeks after Microsoft’s announcement at E3 of the latest installment of its popular HALO video game series, HALO: Infinite, Showtime announced it has ordered a 10-episode series of the award-winning and record-shattering video game. The adapted-for-TV scripted version of the live-action drama series will be based on the Xbox franchise with Kyle Killen (Awake) serving as executive producer, writer and showrunner. Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) will direct multiple episodes and also executive produce the hour-long series.
Showtime will produce the highly anticipated adaptation of the international hit video game franchise in association with Microsoft/343 Industries and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television. HALO (working title) is set to begin production in early 2019.
As Microsoft’s best-selling video game franchise, HALO includes more than 10 games and several novels and comic books. Needless to say, it’s rife with plenty of rich material for a television series. HALO has been credited with reinventing the way in which people think about video games, becoming a global entertainment phenomenon. More than 77 million copies have been sold worldwide and the game itself has grossed more than $5 billion in sales since its first installment for Xbox in 2001, HALO: Combat Evolved.
“It’s a smart franchise for Showtime to develop, as one of the most popular video game titles of all-time with a strong base of fans,” says Samba TV’s CEO, Ashwin Navin. He concurs that with more than $5 billion in sales, there’s a strong likelihood of success for a TV series. “However, the track record for video games that become movies hasn’t been great. There is no replacement for good stories and character development.”
Navin adds that HALO will have a huge advantage in today’s competitive content landscape with its massive brand recognition. “With even moderate success, my guess is that it won’t be the last example of video game IP transitioning to television; this will lead to more bets on content that speaks to a deeply dedicated gaming audience. HALO also gives Showtime an opportunity to grow its audience with a younger demographic.” Samba, he says, will be measuring this show closely, as well as how significantly it overlaps with console game usage.
In the Showtime adaptation, HALO will take place in the universe that first came to be in 2001, dramatizing an epic 26th century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant. The show will weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future.
“HALO is our most ambitious series ever, and we expect audiences who have been anticipating it for years to be thoroughly rewarded,” said David Nevins, President and CEO, Showtime Networks Inc. “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.”
With Showtime’s biggest hit dramas like Homeland, Billions and The Chidrawing upwards of 5 million viewers per weekly episode, HALO just might be the cable network’s top show with its already built-in audience of gamers and those simply curious to know more about the multibillion dollar franchise. As we know, however, nothing is a guarantee and audiences can be unpredictable.
“In our research, HALO shows as a tremendous brand, with strong equity and a loyal following,” says President of business strategy and research company Magid, Mike Vorhaus. “Having said that, though, the success of the Showtime effort will be based on what successful content is always based on – strong storytelling.”
“As we have seen with content based on gaming in films, a powerful gaming brand is not a guarantee of success, unless it is delivered through a quality production.”
Though success isn’t guaranteed with any new series or film, HALO might be a show to bet on with its built-in audience and the talent already behind it. In addition to Awake, Killen created and served as showrunner of the TV series Lone Star and Mind Games, and also wrote the feature film The Beaver, directed by Jodie Foster. In addition to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Wyatt’s film and television credits include the upcoming sci-fi feature Captive State, as well as The Exorcist, The Gambler, TURN: Washington’s Spies and his debut feature film The Escapist, which was nominated for a British Independent Film Award.
HALO will be executive produced by Killen, Wyatt and Scott Pennington, along with Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank for Amblin Television. The series will be distributed globally by CBS Studios International.
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