The drama, based on the video game franchise, has changed platforms, directors and now showrunners.
The drama behind the scenes of Showtime’s Halo could wind up being as compelling as what happens on screen — if the series ever sees the light of day.
The adaptation of the video game franchise, which has been in the works since 2014, will part ways with Steven Kane, the second of its former showrunners, when production on the series in Budapest wraps in a few weeks. Should the pricey drama starring Pablo Schreiber be renewed for a second season, a search for a new showrunner would begin.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that original showrunner Kyle Killen (Lone Star, Awake) quietly departed Halo in late 2019, months after he asked that the Microsoft/343 Industries, Amblin Television and CBS Studios-produced show to hire a second showrunner to oversee production in Budapest so that he could focus on stateside efforts, including scripts and editing. Kane (The Last Ship, The Closer) was hired in March 2019 and has been on the ground overseeing filming in Budapest for the past few years. Kane will exit Halo after he wraps production.
The showrunner exits are the latest behind the scenes drama that has plagued Halo since plans for the show were first unveiled in 2014. The show was originally designed to be the first scripted original on the Xbox platform with episodes debuting first on Showtime. The ViacomCBS-owned premium cabler became the show’s lone home in 2018 with Killen attached as its lone showrunner and Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) set to direct multiple episodes of the 10-episode series.
In making the June 2018 announcement, Showtime’s David Nevins called Halo the cabler’s “most ambitious series ever.” By December of that same year, Otto Bathurst (Black Mirror, Robin Hood) had taken over directing duties two months after Wyatt departed and the show’s 10-episode order shrank to nine. Three months later, in March 2019, Kane joined Killen as co-showrunner. Killen was expected to be on set, though not full time and left some months later.
Orange Is the New Black alum Schreiber was tapped to star as the franchise’s iconic leading character Master Chief in April 2019, with the show rounding its cast — which includes Natascha McElhone and Bokeem Woodbine — by August and production starting shortly afterward.
In the time since Halo was first announced as a Showtime series, the premium cable network’s parent company, CBS, re-merged with Viacom to form ViacomCBS. The merged company then began to focus on bulking up streamer CBS All Access, which was rebranded earlier this year as Paramount+ with a focus on incorporating original content from across the conglomerate’s vast cable portfolio. Halo was moved from Showtime to Paramount+ in February. The series remains on track for a 2022 premiere on the subscription streaming platform.
The Halo video game franchise has sold more than 77 million copies worldwide and grossed more than $5 billion in sales. The TV series takes place in the same universe that launched in 2001 and will dramatize an epic 26th century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant. Halo will weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future.
Reps for Paramount+ and CBS Studios declined comment.
THR‘s sibling publication, Variety, first reported the news.