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Halo film's collapse was lucky, says director Neill Blomkamp

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Neill Blomkamp was signed on to direct a Halo feature film, but he considers the project's collapse to be a tremendously lucky turn of events for his career, he told the Los Angeles Times' Hero Complex.

Peter Jackson, the director of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, hired Blomkamp in 2006 to helm the Halo movie, which would have been Blomkamp's first full-length film. But later that year, the two studios financing the movie — 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures — pulled out of the project, reportedly due to concerns over its ballooning budget and Microsoft's cut.

Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh, had been serving as executive producers on the Halo film. When it collapsed, they instead produced Blomkamp's District 9, a sci-fi movie based on one of his short films. District 9 was released in 2009 and received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

"The luck is the fact that Peter and Fran let me make [District 9] out of the ruins that were Halo," Blomkamp said to Hero Complex. "What happened out of that was learning to trust my ideas. If Halo had come out and succeeded or failed, I wouldn't have learned that."

The failure of the Halo movie also left Blomkamp leery of big-budget franchise projects because they would require him to relinquish creative control.

"There are many franchises out there I would love to participate in," said Blomkamp. "The problem is when you agree to do that, you take a lot of the control that you have over your own creative destiny away from yourself."