Paramount+ is in need of high-profile movies and TV shows if it wants to compete with Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max, and to that end, the long-awaited Halo TV series will be moving from Showtime to Paramount‘s new streamer, where it will debut in the first quarter of 2022.
The series hails from Steven Spielberg‘s Amblin Television, which has been working on Halo for nearly a decade. Originally announced in 2013, the series was initially expected to launch Xbox’s original content effort before moving to Showtime once Xbox Entertainment Studios closed up shop in 2014. The network finally greenlit the expensive series in June 2018, but the first season of the show was barely halfway through production when the pandemic hit and caused another delay. The series is currently shooting in Budapest, which is why it won’t bow on Paramount+ until early next year.
The series adaptation of Halo reportedly takes place in the universe that first came to be in 2001, dramatizing an epic 26th century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant. Pablo Schreiber (Den of Thieves) stars as Master Chief Spartan John-117, and Natascha McElhone (Californication) co-stars as Dr. Halsey, the brilliant and conflicted creator of the Spartan super soldiers.
Elsewhere, Jen Taylor plays Cortana, an advanced AI who may be the key to the survival of the human race, while additional stars include Shabana Azmi, Natasha Culzac, Olive Gray, Yerin Ha, Bentley Kalu, Kate Kennedy, Charlie Murphy, Danny Sapani and the great Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo).
Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey and Spielberg executive produce for Amblin Television alongside Steven Kane, director Otto Bathurst and Toby Leslie for One Big Picture, and Kyle Killen and Scott Pennington for Chapter Eleven. Kiki Wolfkill, Frank O’Connor and Bonnie Ross serve as executive producers for 343 Industries.
Deadline broke the news, reporting that Showtime and ViacomCBS executives saw the first finished footage from Halo last fall and thought it could be a signature series on their new streamer Paramount+, which needs content that defines the Viacom brand, such as the Star Trek franchise that’s currently on CBS All Access. They ran the idea by Spielberg and his Amblin Television partners, as well as the team at Microsoft-owned 343 Industries, and everyone got on board.
Showtime will continue to produce Halo for Paramount+, so the executives that have been shepherding it will continue to do so despite the shift in distribution strategy, something that ultimately comes down to a decision by the ViacomCBS Creative Council, which is tasked with finding the right content for each of the company’s different platforms.
The Halo games have sold more than 81 million copies worldwide, and though the series would’ve been a boon for Showtime, the network is riding high off the success of its Bryan Cranston drama Your Honor, and it’s already reviving Dexter starring Michael C. Hall. Showtime’s slate also includes an American Gigolo series starring Jon Bernthal, a Ripley reboot starring Andrew Scott, the Safdie brothers‘ comedy The Curse starring Emma Stone, and the limited series The First Lady starring Viola Davis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson.