Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn may not be the big screen debut Microsoft has been hoping for with its blockbuster franchise, but the live action web series still carried a hefty price tag.
According to the LA Times, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn cost between $5 million and $10 million to produce with the hopes that it this big budget project allow 343 Industries to tell different 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. “When you have real people, you can have real stakes and make connections.”
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is a five episode, live-action web series that tells the story of how Master Chief inspired a young UNSC cadet who will eventually become a leader aboard the UNSC Infinity Spacecraft. This new character will tie into the plot of Halo 4, while providing a flashback to the beginning of the Halo franchise's war between the humans and the Covenant.
The mini-series will premiere this October and will air on Machinima and Microsoft's Halo Waypoint over a five week period, leading up to the release of Halo 4 on November 6th. Each episode, which is roughly 15 minutes in length, will then be collected, along with 15 minutes of additional footage, into a 90-minute feature film.
So what led to such a large cost? It could be that the filmmakers are relying on computer effects as little as possible. The majority of the Halo elements were created with real materials, from Master Chief's armor to the Warthog vehicle.
“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.’”
Despite the costliness of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, Microsoft still hopes it will be more than just 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. Following its release, and the launch of Halo 4, Forward Unto Dawn will be available to rent or buy on DVD, Blu-ray, and in digital stores.
It's not the big screen blockbuster we all want, but it's a step in the right direction. Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is set for its grand unveiling at Comic-Con this week. From the teaser shown earlier this month, fans are in for quite a treat.