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Microsoft Thinks ‘Halo’ Still Shines With Movie Potential

Are Microsoft’s very deep pockets enough to bring one of the video game industry’s most popular games to the big screen?


The Redmond, Wash., software giant may now be on its own in its effort to produce a picture based on its “Halo” game following the departures of Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox over budget worries; the film was shaping up to have a $175 million price tag.


But Microsoft Corp., which introduced the first-person shooter game as a launch title to its Xbox gaming system in 2001, claims it still wants to move forward, whether it has a studio attached or not.


Microsoft already shelled out $1 million for the screenplay before shopping it to the studios, and cut itself a very sweet deal that would provide a flat fee of $5 million, plus a 7.5 percent interest in ticket revenues.


“We are disappointed that Universal wanted to significantly renegotiate the financial points of the deal,” Microsoft said in a statement. “We are already in discussions with several potential partners who recognize the value of the ‘Halo’ brand.”


In the past, Hollywood has not been thrilled with the weak box office for video games turned into films, such as “Super Mario Bros.” But “Halo” is one of the 10 bestselling video games ever, with an estimated 5 million copies sold. “Halo 2” has sold 14.5 million units.


The game is set far into the future in a science fiction universe amid wars between humans and aliens. Its title refers to a giant, halo-shaped artificial space habitat.


The film was set to be produced by Peter Jackson of “Lord of the Rings” fame and written by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland with a rewrite by D.B. Weiss under first-time director Neill Blomkamp.



Doing Business

A new Internet-based firm wants to simplify the arcane system that Los Angeles companies have to go through to register with the state.


Thedbaplace.com writes and files the DBAs (or ‘Doing Business As’ entities) for prospective companies. It will also set up tax ID numbers, employment identification numbers, California corporations, limited liability companies and partnership agreements.


Prices run from $50 to $350, and turnaround is usually between 24 and 48 hours. Firm President Lys Sparrow said she’s simply trying to take the nightmare out of creating a company.


“It’s never easy. If you file it yourself, sometimes you will have an avalanche of paperwork to fill out and you might have to spend eight to 10 hours in line in Norwalk, Van Nuys, downtown or at other registering agencies,” Sparrow said. “We take care of all of that.”


Sparrow’s thedbaplace.com is using the Florida-based Internet marketing firm, Affinity Internet Inc. to help generate leads. Before launching her company on the Internet last month, Sparrow helped nearly 2,000 companies with DBAs in the last three years.



Scouting for Downloads

Talk about the far-reaching tentacles of the Internet.


Forget camping, hiking and carving, the Boy Scouts of America is issuing a new merit badge for learning about the evils of downloading pirated movies and music.


And the movie industry, looking to tap into youth culture, is backing the group.


The patch will show a film reel, a music CD and the international copyright symbol, a “C” enclosed in a circle. Scouts will be taught basic copyright law and lean how to identify copyrighted works and three of the ways copyrighted material can be stolen.


“Working with the Boy Scouts of Los Angeles, we have a real opportunity to educate a new generation about how movies are made, why they are valuable, and hopefully change attitudes about intellectual property theft,” Dan Glickman, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement.


Next step, law school.



Paramount, AOL Deal

Los Angeles-based Paramount Studios, always looking to augment its distribution with new technology, has made a deal with AOL to bring the studio’s movies to the Netco’s video portal. A range of new titles will be available to download on AOL Video, including such classics as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and newer releases such as “Mission Impossible III” and “Nacho Libre.” Movie costs will range from $9.99 to $19.99. The films will go on the Web site in conjunction with the home video distribution of each film.



Staff reporter Dan Cox can be reached at

dcox@labusinessjournal.com

or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230.

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