In addition to Halo Infinite and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the team at 343 Industries is working on a Halo TV show with Showtime and starring Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief. The production was shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s unclear when it may start back up again. While we wait for that, Halo’s transmedia boss Kiki Wolfkill has shared some new insight on the show and what it’s trying to do
Appearing on Star Wars writer Gary Whitta’s Animal Talking show, Wolfkill said it has been a “mind-bending challenge” to translate the video game series to TV.
Instead of directly adapting a previous Halo game or book, the TV show is seemingly going to tell an entirely new story. Wolfkill’s team has been working with Showtime–which is GameSpot’s sister company–on finding the best way to retain the essence of Halo and bring it to a new medium. This has been hard work, both on this Halo TV show and in the past. Fans will no doubt recall how Peter Jackson’s Halo movie famously fell apart.
“How do we take something and not try and verbatim translate it to a different medium. But how do we look at what the experience can mean for people,” Wolfkill said. “For me, I look at is as how do people feel when they come out of playing the game, or how do they feel after reading one of the novels. Or engaging in any of the different kinds of experiences that we have. Because that’s the core of what the universe is and entering the universe should mean.”
One of the benefits of TV versus a video game is that the show has the potentially to more fully develop its characters over the space of numerous episodes and countless hours, Wolfkill said.
“You also want it to be different, because the whole point of going to a different medium is to let yourself and let the IP express itself in a different way,” she added. “With television, we get long-form storytelling. We get to develop characters. We get to really dig into their backgrounds and their motivations and who they are emotionally. And they can express it as themselves as opposed to needing to reflect who they are through some of the other characters as we do in the games.”
There is no word yet on the plot for the Halo show. In addition to Schreiber as Master Chief, Natascha McElhone (The Truman Show, Californication) is set to play the iconic Halo AI Cortana, so we know she’ll be involved in the story in some capacity.
Previously, Wolfkill said the Halo TV show is similar to Game of Thrones in terms of its scope and scale. Unlike that show, however, the Halo TV program will not feature incest.
Simply getting the Halo TV show off the ground was hard work, Wolfkill said, due to the nature of how Hollywood works. On the other side of the coin, however, once production began, it moved along quickly–that is, until the COVID-19 crisis caused most major Hollywood productions to shut down temporarily.
“It’s really hard to get things done. Sometimes I’m amazed that anything gets done [in Hollywood], honestly,” Wolfkill said. “But on the flip side of that, once something is kind of in the chute–coronavirus delays aside–it moves at an incredibly fast rate and it’s really different that way from game development in terms of the linearity of the process.”
“We went through a period of really trying to figure out the right creative combination, and also figuring out what it meant for Showtime and Halo to come together,” she added. “They are two different entities who have both had success. Showtime has really strong expertise in places that we don’t, and Halo is a new kind of show for them. They’ve been amazing partners in acknowledging and understanding and working to really collaborate on understanding those differences and figuring out what is the right adaptation for Halo.”
The Halo TV show will be directed, at least in part, by Black Mirror’s Otto Bathurst. He directed the very first episode of Black Mirror, “The National Anthem,” which was very shocking and memorable.
The Halo TV show was announced to premiere in 2021, but that was before the production was shut down due to the global pandemic. It’s unclear if the show is still on track.
Also during the interview, Wolfkill gave a very small update on Halo Infinite, noting that the development team is “busting ass” on the project. It won’t be much longer until we see and learn more about it, as Microsoft plans to showcase the game during its Xbox 20/20 event that’s rumored to take place on July 23.
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