‘Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn’ will be the first ‘Halo’ movie

July 11, 2012 | 12:01 a.m.
halo8 Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be the first Halo movie

Daniel Cudmore as Master Chief in "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn." Microsoft is producing the first live-action content based on the popular "Halo" video games. Set to be unveiled at Comic-Con, "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn" is a five-episode Web series that will be turned into a 90-minute movie, a prequel to the upcoming "Halo 4" video game. (Microsoft / 343 Industries)

halo1 Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be the first Halo movie

Exclusive Image: Daniel Cudmore as Master Chief in "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn." (Microsoft / 343 Industries)

halo3 Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be the first Halo movie

Behind the scenes as actors film a fight scene for "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn." (Microsoft / 343 Industries)

halo4 Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be the first Halo movie

Enisha Brewster as April Orenski in "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn." (Microsoft / 343 Industries)

halo2 Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be the first Halo movie

Daniel Cudmore, left, as Master Chief in "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn." (Microsoft / 343 Industries)

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Kat De Lieva (Katerina Katelieva) as Dimah in "Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn." (Microsoft / 343 Industries)

Microsoft’s blockbuster “Halo” franchise has sold more than 42 million video games and been featured in novels, comic books, trading cards and an animated series. But Master Chief, the “space marine” protagonist who wields two guns and takes no prisoners, got his butt kicked on his first foray into the live-action world, when 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures’ 2006 attempt to develop a big-budget “Halo” movie fizzled over budget concerns.

Now “Halo” has gone in front of the cameras, but without any movie studio assistance. Microsoft has produced a Web series, called “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn,” which will premiere this October in five episodes leading up to the release of the “Halo 4” video game. The segments will then be collected, along with 15 minutes of additional footage, into a 90-minute feature film. Microsoft will announce “Forward Unto Dawn” and preview it to fans at Comic-Con International in San Diego during a panel Thursday.

Financed at a cost insiders pegged as between $5 million and $10 million, “Forward Unto Dawn” represents the technology giant’s first significant step forward into the traditional entertainment world. Its backers hope the step will allow 343 Industries, the Microsoft subsidiary that oversees everything “Halo,” to tell new types of stories and reach new audiences.

“We want this piece to do all the things that a game, by virtue of being a game, can’t,” said producer Lydia Antonini, a former Warner Bros. executive who is one of several experienced Hollywood hands Microsoft hired. “When you have real people, you can have real stakes and make connections.”

Produced over five weeks this past spring in Vancouver, “Forward Unto Dawn” is a prequel story that portrays the first invasion by the Covenant, an alien force that has been the primary enemy in “Halo” games thus far. Set in a military academy, the futuristic science-fiction series focuses on a young trainee who will also appear in “Halo 4” and other upcoming games.

The cast includes Australian actor Tom Green, relatively unknown in the U.S., as its lead. Daniel Cudmore, who played Colossus in two “X-Men” movies and was in the most recent “Twilight” film, costars as Master Chief. Other cast members aren’t household names but have appeared in everything from “Footloose” to “Supernatural” to “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

Director Stewart Hendler, who previously made the horror movie “Sorority Row” and science-fiction Web series “H+,” said his goal was to temper a franchise known in the game world for over-the-top action and grandiose plots.

halo1 Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be the first Halo movie

Exclusive Image: Daniel Cudmore as Master Chief in “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.” (Microsoft / 343 Industries)

“I wanted to bring a sense of reality and gravity to the world,” he explained while editing the series in a North Hollywood office. “Everything from the performances to the aesthetics should be tethered to a sense of authenticity and grittiness.”

Key to that ambition, the filmmakers said, was using computer effects as little as possible. All the “Halo” hardware — from Master Chief’s armor to the “MA5” gun, Warthog vehicle, and Pelican drop ship — was made with real materials.

“Our hope is that nobody will look at a frame of this and go, ‘Oh, that’s a green screen,’” said producer Josh Feldman. “We built a disproportionate amount of our sets and brought in a visual effects supervisor who won an Emmy for ‘The Pacific.’”

An inspiration, the filmmakers said, has been the popular live-action commercials used to promote previous “Halo” games. An ad for 2009’s “Halo 3: ODST” helped to win director Rupert Sanders the director’s job on this summer’s big-budget tentpole film “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

In producing “Forward Unto Dawn,” Microsoft is putting itself among a small group of video game companies expanding into the live-action world. After producing several live-action Web videos based on its “Assassin’s Creed” franchise, French game publisher Ubisoft recently recruited “X-Men: First Class” star Michael Fassbender to play the lead character in a movie version it is developing. Like “Halo,” the “Assassin’s Creed” movie is being developed without a Hollywood studio.

While the primary business of “Halo” is still selling video games, Microsoft executives say they don’t see their foray into live action as a purely promotional move. “It’s really important to us that this is a stand-alone product that can make money on its own,” said Matt McCloskey, director of franchise business management for 343.

halo3 Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be the first Halo movie

Behind the scenes as actors film a fight scene for “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.” (Microsoft / 343 Industries)

Toward that end, Microsoft licensed 343 to Machinima.com, the game website and YouTube channel. That will be the only place to watch “Forward Unto Dawn” webisodes, beginning Oct. 5, save for Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles connected to the Internet.

When put together into a film, the “Halo” movie will be given away free with limited editions of “Halo 4,” and be available to rent or buy on DVD, Blu-ray and in digital stores.

Millions of hard-core “Halo” fans are sure to stream the episodes and scrutinize whether every detail is exactly right. Hendler said he exchanged hundreds of emails with staff at 343 during preproduction. “They were checking every costume stitch, the placement of LEDs on the guns, and the bevels on the visors,” he said.

But if “Forward Unto Dawn” meets the ambitions of its makers, it will also draw viewers who think warthogs are animals and a Master Chief can be found at Camp Pendleton.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is reach new audiences,” said 343 franchise development director Frank O’Connor. “If Mom watches, she’ll completely understand it.”

— Ben Fritz


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94 Responses to ‘Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn’ will be the first ‘Halo’ movie

  1. Yowza says:

    More soldiers sporting motocross helmets and culinary delights courtesy of the Master Chef! Never did get this franchise.

    • zeke says:

      You haven't even watched it yet. Have you also played the Halo games or read the books? Maybe you can understand it then.

    • Ross says:

      then shut up and read something else. why are you commenting anyway.

    • Guest says:

      Yeah, go whine about something else.

    • brandon says:

      why are you here?

    • Nitty Peezy says:

      probably because you still think you live in the 1900's, i assume you play cod or other games where you win by standing in a corner and just aim at the door until someone runs through

      • Wildblood779 says:

        LOL that's a very good summary of a game that's no more interesting than a fish (COD = a type of fish. Get it????????????? XD)

    • @dinosworld says:

      I agree the reason they are making the film is because most people love the franchise. Since 1999 when it first appeared in the sale of the orignal Xbox console. Millions of us were drawn into a univers that expanded and became part of video game culture and history. This film is truly a gift for us. For you to come and post an ignorant comment like that makes me think your some sort of Sony Fan boy. Because the Master Chief is what made Microsoft great as a console and now they are giving the fans something special. I watched these episodes by accident on Halo Way Point during a Halo 4 session. Anyway if your going to talk out your ass leave it on a fan boy page. Halo was amazing from the beginning and time has only made the Universe more exciting and great fun for all of us fans.

    • The One says:

      That's because you have absolutely no imagination!!!

  2. sebastian says:

    this is going to be awesome!!

  3. Griff says:

    Bah, this better be good, as a hard core fan we will be expecting alot…

  4. mark says:

    he looks like a power ranger

  5. Chilly says:

    If u can get a piece of equipment used in this live action film…..gona be worth big money $$$ some day

  6. SEspider says:

    I don't want to turn this into a issue of race but from these screenshots and video, why is everyone white? This is 2012, why are we only seeing white people in the non-sex/drug focused films? Sorry. I'm sure it's going to be a great film, but it just bugs me.

    • dc5grl says:

      Nope – Enisha Brewster is April Orensk and she is of color…in reality there are more racially mixed couples and children, a trend that could continue for the next 5 centuries – there will be more of a blend…so that maybe it will be even harder to tell what race everyone is we (humans) may appear to be hispanic skin tone….

    • fuchsdh says:

      There's a black cadet in one of the shots right above. That isn't to say your query as to why the main characters couldn't be another race isn't valid.

    • @russkle says:

      The only photo of multiple actors in the article is peppered with people of color. So I’m not sure what you are talking about.

    • Evan says:

      Master Chief is black, if it helps at all.

      • Soap says:

        master chief is white. Go do some research on the actor

      • Wrong says:

        Master chief is honestly suppose to be race(less). The books made him white. Microsoft never shows his face in the games so it appeals to more audiences. Its easier to see yourself in the chief and thats what sells games.

      • Artik87 says:

        In Halo: The Flood, referring to John in 2552, he is described as having "Short hair, with serious eyes, a firm mouth, and a strong jaw." He is described as being unnaturally pale, a consequence of spending most of his time in his armor.

      • sean says:

        Master Chief is white, it shows him as a kid in a cutscene in either halo2 or 3 i forget.

      • Michael says:

        No it doesn't, Master Chief was never once at any time revealed to the public. The mystery behind what he looks like helps players and fans to more closely relate themselves as the role of master chief. His facial features were described in the first book and second book of the book series of halo however.

      • Josh says:

        False. The Halo 4: Launch Trailer shows chief as a kid, and also as an adult. Both of these people are white.
        – Dwight D Shrute

    • Warrior says:

      Watch the trailer. Plenty of diversity. Halo has always been good for that.

    • dav says:

      the games feature tons of black/asian/hispanic people and voice actors. chilllll :)

    • IDGAF says:

      White power.

    • kev says:

      um if you actually look closer…not everyone is white…please stop trying to make things an issue that aren't.

    • Michael says:

      I think you may be the only person here who cares so much about the issue, all the actors could be either black, white, asian, or serbian, and at the end of the day it will STILL be a sick series.

      One complaint however, Master Chief should always have his voiced characterized by Steve Downes. No other voices will compare, and also, strip the 117 off his chest piece. Anyone that knows anything about Halo knows who he is and the numbers on his chest are redundant.

      • Matt says:

        Totally agree with you. Steve Downes should have voiced MC and the the 117 looks out of place and unnecessary.

      • Danny says:

        If you need an explanation on why the 117 is on the armor at this time in the Halo Universe than you are clearly not as big of fans as you think or just not really fans. All Spartans were marked at this time on their armor. Frankie also explains why they used it.

    • tagintang says:

      One of the main characters is a black female… Why does everything have to be about race.

    • Marcus says:

      There's a token black chick, and an Asian guy if that makes you feel any better. The Halo games have always been racially diverse though, plenty of Black people, and Hispanics in them, as well as in the books,

    • The One says:

      Get over your political correctness. Is there something wrong with being white? And you are wrong btw, not everyone is white in this movie!

    • SeanFindMe says:

      The very fact that you brought up race makes you completely narrow minded, get off your racist horse and just go enjoy the film, it's really good. I mean seriously you know what else makes me mad?! There are absolutely ZERO, I mean ZERO people from Guam in this film. -_-

    • Guest says:

      SEspider, I have to speak my mind here friend.

      I know that you think you're being racially sensitive. I know that because I used to be the same.

      But it's exactly BECAUSE it's 2012 that concerns like that shouldn't even matter.

      Racial pandering and tokenism is NOT how you honor equality. You honor equality by hiring the best actor for the job, simply because that INDIVIDUAL did the best. That could very well be the most likely case, especially since the majority race of the country just happens to be white. I wouldn't be asking why there were no token white guys in a movie filmed in Africa, or Japan after all.

      Color-blind equality is the ONLY real equality there is, because it's the only kind that looks at the individual's merits instead of rigging the game to get more of a certain race into a certain work. And I'm sure more than a few black Americans would want to know that they got the job through their own hard work and skill rather than filling out a race quota.

      For all of the claims of us being "post-racial," comments like those seem to presume that we've regressed on race, when the opposite is true.

  7. Wes says:

    I'm so excited for this fall now!! This is going to be great if it's anything like their live action commercials.

  8. If it anything like the halo 3 live action: [-Landfall-] its going to be amazing….The chieftain taking out the sniper was A+

  9. Ryan says:

    Anybody know how to watch it when it comes on the web??

  10. DirtySailor says:

    Master Chief

    "Space Marine"



  11. nick says:

    Halo 4 extended edition includes this? whoop whoop!

  12. your face says:

    go master chief you rock

  13. tiredofit says:

    After more than 10 years in Afghanistan and Iraq wars… The theme of the movie does not appeal to me.

    • Ryan says:

      You've personally spent 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan over the course of the last…..decade? I call B.S.

    • That Guy says:

      ok then go pay Call of duty with your 12 year old son.

    • Ryosuke says:

      Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn has anything to do with Iraq and Afghanistan how? I'm calling bull on the more than a decade in the middle east escapade. Call of Duty and Battlefield do not count as spending years there.

    • Guest says:

      It appeals to me. I don't like pro-war films per-say, but I DO like pro-warrior films. The protagonist recognizes true evil, and accepts with his whole heart the need to fight it for the sake of others.

      It's a much more inspiring message, and more true to our current conflict against violent zealotry, than another cheesy anti-war agitprop piece.

  14. Robert says:

    There finaly will will be a Halo movie… :D

  15. Позднее выступающий за “Челси” защитник сказал, что не видел Капелло. По словам Коула, идя на награждение, он споткнулся, поэтому смотрел под ноги и не заметил тренера сборной. В матче за Суперкубок Англии “Челси” потерпел поражение со счетом 1:3.

  16. kris ballinger says:

    its not about RACE, its about a MOVIE. If you have a problem because the main character isnt the race of you, then dont watch it. People need to grow the hell up. Racist people need to stop living in the past. im white and my wife of 13yrs is black. anybody who worries that much about a certain race isnt in a movie needs to stop watching movies or go blind. Lords Of The Rings doesnt have any black folks in it and ive never heard any complaints about that. you should watch a movie FOR the movie, not because theres white, black, puple, asian or any other races are or arenot in it. regaurdless if this movie had noone in it that ws white, id still watch it because ITS GONNA BE GOOD AND I WANT TO WATCH IT

  17. Matt says:

    As a Marine and a nerd, let me start by saying that Marines are not navy, The Marine corps. is it's own branch. Technically a department of the Navy but still a branch. Moving on.

    First Covenant push? Holy crap I'm Stoked! Color me biased but everything looks near fricken' perfect. I had the biggest nerdgasm ever. Props Microsoft. Let's make more of this happen.

  18. JRB says:

    Master chief looks really good and I think the story line will be great

  19. vishnu says:

    I’m in the singapore army and its full of people from different racial backgrounds it shouldn’t matter what race the actors are they are actors, but still I can’t wait for the movie so hyped up about it!

  20. Sierra 117 says:

    Holy Crap! I thought Halo should have a movie, when stuff like freaking BATTLESHIP have a movie (can you believe it!!??) Halo actuall has a compelling story, characters, and universe. (btw…got goosebumps during teaser :D)

    • Guest says:

      lol, yah. I was kind of weirded out myself when I saw that Liam Neeson would star in a Boardgame movie with Aliens. ; )

      Hollywood must be smoking some of its own product these days.

      You know, I don't know how they'd do it without green-screening a lot of Temura Morrison on the cheap, but I'd LOVE to see a 5-Part Republic Commando Web Series based on Karen Traviss' books. Unique plot, similar style to her writing and this Halo series.

      Maybe a little less anti-Jedi bias, but you could do a LOT of interesting character development with the material. Hehe, and don't forget the 'Splosions! ; )

  21. JJJJJ says:

    yo is this going to be in theaters or just on machinima and halo waypoint?

  22. Falcon says:

    For those saying there are no black people in the film, check pic #6 at the top.

  23. Mom says:

    My son is going to be dissapointed, he actually thought there was going to be a big screen movie of this (he is 10) Have to tell him it will be web based in pieces,grrrrrr :( He will be bothering me every day "when is the next one".

    • Petrus says:

      You can still just get it on DVD or something. Check the internet and order it online at places like ebay and Amazon.

  24. Michael says:

    The 117 needs to be on his chest as, in case you all forget, there has been more than one Spartan. He was not the first, and no where near the last. There was hundreds of them. If he stood beside them, there would be no way to tell them apart except by gender , and style.

    Stop trying to change the HALO universe by suggesting such a drastic change.

    Also, it stands to reason why they cannot use the voice from the game. It lacks realism as we get to meet a REAL John for the first time. As he is younger when he begins it makes sense that is voice should sound that way. Once he dons the armour, continuity is needed.

    They should not just revert back to game voices like in the star wars prequels.

    Let’s just hope the webisodes do so well that they make a real movie AND keep most of the same actors to star in that movie.

    The best actor out there right now is Hugh Jackman for his willingness to continue as Wolverine. He has been in 5 X- related movies with Wolverine 2 coming for number 6. That is a record in superhero movie biz.

    If we can get that class of actor here, no-one will be disappointed.

  25. Hannah says:

    I just watched the whole thing, as a hard core Halo fan since the first one released, I give it 5 stars! Now I want to know when they are going to make the next ones!! SO GOOD, would recommend to all Halo fans and movie junkies.

  26. Mark says:

    Master Chiefs would be found in the Navy and although the Marine Corp and Camp Pendelton is a branch of the Dept of the Navy, Master Chief is a Naval rank, not a Marine Corp rank. That is not likely to change in the UNSC…

  27. Theo says:

    I just watched this movie this morning. It was outstanding. I give it 5 stars and hope and pray they continue making these. This movie is WAY better then most of the trash they are bringing out.

  28. NateDK says:

    I have played the first Halo game when first released and it was awesome. Bought the game and borrowed a friends Xbox. My life’s circumstances have not left me the option to purchase more of the games or a console. However I am a huge movie buff and after just watching the 90min Halo movie I shall be on the edge of my seat till the next one and must invest in the console and games!!!!

    Truly an amazing and addicting franchise.

  29. Connor says:

    This article has one lie in it. It is not the first Halo movie. There is a much older movie based off of Halo 1.

  30. John says:

    Never played Halo. After seing this I may just go out and by the series just to run through it. The movie was amazing! Can't wait to see the next unless its dead??? Any word on another being released?

  31. kyle says:

    You all should read Halo: Fall of Reach. It starts when masterchief is 6 years old. Then there's like 2 or 3 more books after that. The first two were the best. Serious full movie plot potential….definitely multiple movie potential.

  32. Julia says:

    I love halo and I loved the movie halo 4 and I can’t wait for comacon this year cuz I really want to meat the cased exspethale Tom Letskey and Taylar,gingerbread,April or roboit , Dana,and master chef I forgot the other 2 names but I’m 9 so I forget

  33. Julia says:

    My brother has been looking to buy a suit like master chef and he says if he can’t find one he will weld one and don’t make fun ok my spelling I’m only 9 and yes I love halo and I’m a girl

  34. Awesome Movie says:

    I don't own an xbox and i don't play this game, but I will say I love the movie. I plan on watching everyone they make. I might even buy an xbox just to experience the game. The technology displayed was nice, i can't wait until home users can afford it.

  35. Jorge says:

    I watched this on Netflix last night its pretty dope theres more than one Spartan and theres gonna be another movie fersure

  36. James says:

    Sick move, love the game….Now i really love this series or movie whatever it is! I want wait no NEED MORE!

  37. halomanic says:

    I have played every halo game to date i wtched the trailor for the original halo movie before it was canned i have watch forward unto dawn and i must say although we see little of the covanant in the movie the glimpses we see we surpass my expectations the detail and graphics are outstanding. Can not wait for the next full length installment.

  38. Jojo says:

    I just watched forward unto dawn and have not been this anxious about a movie since I discovered Star Wars as a child. Since Star Wars is done I would really enjoy to see a series of movies. I believe if they do as well as they did on forward unto dawn they can be as big as Star Wars if they play there cards right. And I will watch every halo movie if they do produce more

  39. Jojo says:

    Let’s just hope if it does start up that they don’t end up like Star Wars making 4,5, and 6 and then 1,2,and 3. Well they started out on 4, and if they do pull a Star Wars just don’t take so damn long to make the ret of the movies

  40. I’m 44 been playing Halo since the day it was born . I enjoyed finally seeing a movie with actual people come to life and I sincerely hope there will be a few more to follow . I truly wish Hollywood would jump on board and give us a Master Chief to match the excellent Iron Man and Marvel movies that have came to be these last few years . As I am sure it will produce as much if not more than those smash hit films .

  41. Matt Noggle says:

    Not gonna lie…I got goosebumps when the master chief stabbed the elite! Absolutely love the Halo series tho the games 3have strayed into a different direction. If more Halo movies are to be made they could not come soon enough!! Nice work 343 Industries!!!

  42. Mike says:

    I saw the entire movie amazing! Outstanding job!! Now is there going to be a second?!!!????

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