Showtime's 'Halo' Series Won't Be A Direct Adaptation Of The Games, But It Will Star Master Chief [TCA 2018]

Showtime executives spoke to the Television Critics Association on Monday. One of the major shows in development at the premium cable network is an adaptation of the hit video game series Halo. Kyle Killen is writing the Halo series and Rupert Wyatt will direct.President of Programming at Showtime Gary Levine spoke with reporters following the executive panel. Showtime CEO David Nevins added some thoughts during the executive session. Find out how big a role Master Chief will have in the series, what the story is based on, where it may shoot and whether it's Showtime's answer to Game of Thrones.

Master Chief Unmasked

Master Chief is the most iconic character from Halo. However, it is a character whose face we never see, and the avatar for the player. Showtime knows they can't make a Halo show without Master Chief, so they're tackling the issue of how to transition him to an on camera presence."It is a key question and an important part of our series is all I say," Levine said. "He is a lead character."

It’s Not Based on Any of the Halo Games

Further hinting at Killen's idea for the Halo series, Levine said it would not repeat any of the stories from the various Halo games."It is a new story, but we are being incredibly respectful of the canon and working with Microsoft 343 people to be sure we don't violate any of that," Levine said. "We made a conscious decision to hire a writer not known for sci-fi or big battle movies because that's already baked into the Halo franchise and we will service that but we also wanted to make sure we were getting underneath the armor of the spartans to the human drama, so it felt like it belonged on Showtime. Our hope is it will appeal to Halo fans and Showtime drama fans."

We Won’t See It for a While

As one can imagine, a live-action adaptation of the Halo games will be an elaborate production. That means that even with the fastest development, it won't make it on air for quite a while."It's an enormous undertaking, so I would say probably in 2020," Levine said.Finishing the scripts and casting the show will have to come first, but when it comes to filming, expect much of the planets of Halo to be created on sets and sound stages."Since locations are foreign planets, I'd say it will be a studio backlot but there will be multiple locations," Levine said.

Maybe TV Can Get the Video Game Adaptation Right

Let's face it: there still has not been a great video game movie. Even the latest Tomb Raider is too green screen-y and too busy setting up sequels they'll never make. And I love Street Fighter: The Movie and Raul Julia's hammy villain to death, but it can't touch the best adaptations of literature. There are even adaptations of TV shows that are better than any video game movie can claim.Maybe the problem is movies are just too short. Maybe with a whole season, Showtime can do Halo justice."Again, I think it's about the writing," Levine said. "I think Kyle Killen is a really deep interesting character writer. The premise for us was always it needs to stand alongside our other Showtime shows and look like it belongs there while at the same time servicing the fans of this enormous franchise. We don't worry about the odds. We just plow ahead and we're very optimistic."

This Isn’t Showtime’s Game of Thrones

With major franchise potential based on an already popular previous work, comparisons to Game of Thrones aren't a stretch. Showtime has hit shows like Homeland and Dexter but has yet to create the sort of juggernaut HBO did. Is Halo Showtime's Game of Thrones? Levine and Nevins downplayed the question."This will be our Halo," Levine said.Nevins added, "I've seen scripts. I think it's a very different genre. It is futuristic space based science fiction. It's not fantasy. There's been one iconic franchise in my opinion in the history of television in that category and that's Star Trek. Probably 10 or 12 of the top 20 movies of all time are futuristic sci-fi. It's weird that television hasn't turned up those kinds of franchises. It was a long time to get the script where we felt we had something really interesting and felt like it belonged on Showtime in terms of its character depth. It's going to be a big show."Challenged on handing Star Trek the crown, Nevins acknowledged Battlestar Galactica is good too."Battlestar GalacticaI give great credit especially the second time around," Nevins said.