(Summer = Northern Hemisphere timeframe = NZ winter).  Press Release follows:

 

ACADEMY AWARD® WINNERS PETER JACKSON AND FRAN WALSH TO EXECUTIVE PRODUCE HALO FOR THE BIG SCREEN FOR SUMMER 2007


Creatures, Miniatures and Visual Effects
To Be Created by Weta Workshop Ltd. and Weta Digital Ltd.


Los Angeles, CA, October 4, 2005 — Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox announced today that triple-Academy Award® winners Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as the executive producers of Halo®, the upcoming feature film based on Microsoft’s phenomenally popular video game from Bungie Studios.  Jackson and Walsh will provide creative counsel on all aspects of the film via their WingNut Films banner, and Jackson’s award-winning companies Weta Digital Ltd. and Weta Workshop Ltd. will provide creatures, miniatures and visual effects for the production.  The Halo agreement marks the first time that Jackson and Walsh have performed these services on a major studio film that Jackson is not directing.

Mary Parent and Scott Stuber will produce Halo with Peter Schlessel.  After Fox, led by President Hutch Parker and Universal, led by Production President Donna Langley, acquired the feature film rights to Halo, the studios worked in conjunction with Schlessel in reaching out to a number of producers who auditioned for Microsoft/Bungie.  The film is currently targeted for a Summer 2007 worldwide release.  Universal will handle domestic distribution of the film, and Fox will handle the international release.

This unique alliance among Fox, Universal, Microsoft, and Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh promises a step forward in motion picture production.  Halo will benefit from the experience and resources of the film studios, from Bungie’s groundbreaking vision, and from Jackson and Walsh’s creative sensibilities and expertise in both traditional filmmaking and the world of emerging digital technologies.

Halo will be shot in its entirety in Wellington, New Zealand and will make use of the full range of Jackson’s state-of-the-art production and post-production facilities, including Weta Digital Ltd., Weta Workshop Ltd., Stone Street Studios and Park Road Post.

“As a gaming fan, I’m excited to bring Halo's premise, action and settings to the screen with all the specificity and reality today’s technology can provide,” said Jackson.  “Fran and I are intrigued by the unique challenges this project offers, and we’re delighted to be working again with our friends at Universal, and with our new ones at Fox and Microsoft.  I’m a huge fan of the game and look forward to helping it come alive on the cinema screen.”

Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, Co-Chairmen of Fox Filmed Entertainment remarked, “Halo, Peter Jackson, Fox, Universal and Microsoft.  That is one hell of a starting five, and we can't wait to play.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased, or proud, to continue our relationship with Peter and Fran on this film,” said Stacey Snider, Chairman of Universal Pictures.  “There are no filmmakers who better understand the delicate balance between technology and drama, and how the best use of today’s astonishing digital tools is in the service of not only spectacle but also a solid story.  We are confident that the Halo feature film can be most fully realized under the creative direction of Peter, Fran and Weta.”

“Peter Jackson is one of Hollywood’s most exciting innovators, and our partnership with him will greatly broaden the appeal of the Halo franchise,” said Bill Gates, Microsoft’s Chairman and Chief Software Architect.  “We’re confident he’ll create an epic that not only thrills existing Halo fans, but also introduces millions of moviegoers around the world to this amazing saga.”

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (each a winner of three Academy Awards® for their work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy) are currently in post-production on Universal Pictures’ dramatic adventure King Kong, in which Jackson brings his sweeping cinematic vision to the iconic story of the gigantic ape captured in the wild and brought to civilization where he meets his tragic fate.  Jackson assumes directing, producing and co-screenwriting duties on King Kong and surrounds himself with a list of superlative filmmaking and acting talents.  Jackson re-teams with longtime collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, co-writing the screenplay with three-time Oscar ®-winning partner Walsh and their The Lord of the Rings co-writer, Academy Award® winner Boyens.  Jan Blenkin, Carolynne Cunningham, Fran Walsh and Jackson are producing the film under their WingNut Films banner for a worldwide December 14, 2005 release.

Acclaimed screenwriter (28 Days Later) and novelist (The Beach) Alex Garland wrote the original feature film adaptation of Halo, and a director will be announced shortly. 

Donna Langley, President of Production, Universal Pictures and Hutch Parker, President of Twentieth Century Fox, will oversee the production for their respective studios along with Microsoft.

Bungie Studios (a division of Microsoft) created the international award-winning “Halo” in 2001, and the resulting franchise is supported by a rabid fanbase around the globe.  “Halo” and its 2004 follow-up “Halo 2” have sold a combined 13.8 million copies worldwide and grossed more then $600 million (U.S.).  Last November, “Halo 2” shattered records with $125 million in first-day sales.

About Xbox and Xbox 360
Microsoft revolutionized the gaming industry with the November 2001 launch of Xbox (http://www.xbox.com), its first-generation video games and entertainment system, now sold in 26 countries around the world.  This holiday season Microsoft debuts its next-generation system, Xbox 360, in Europe, Japan and North America, to be followed by availability in Australia, Colombia, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan in 2006. Xbox 360 (http://www.xbox.com/xbox360) is the most powerful video game and entertainment system, delivering the best games, the next generation of the premier Xbox Live online gaming service, and unique digital entertainment experiences that revolve around you.

Developer Information
Bungie Studios was founded in 1991 with two goals: to develop games that combine brilliant technology, beautiful art, intelligent stories and deep gameplay, and then sell enough of those games to achieve its real goal of total world domination.  Over the past 10 years it has produced games such as the “Marathon Trilogy” and the first two “Myth” games, hailed as classics by critics and gamers around the world.  Released in 2001, “Halo: Combat Evolved” has achieved phenomenal success on the Microsoft® Xbox video game system and is also available for the PC. More information on Bungie can be found at http://www.bungie.net/.

About FOX
One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, Fox Filmed Entertainment produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world.  These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of FFE:  Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox Animation.

About Universal
Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com).  Universal Studios is part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.  Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi Universal.

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