‘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)

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

  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.

  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.

  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)

  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".

  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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