Stunt pumps ‘Halo’ effect

Microsoft uses showmanship to boost pic

Joe Eszterhas, Intermedia, and now… Microsoft?

The tech giant last week joined the list of celebs and financiers who have put on a dog and pony show for Hollywood in hopes of sparking a script bidding war.

Alex Garland‘s script — commissioned by Microsoft based on its hit vidgame “Halo” went out to the studios in the hands of a messenger dressed like Master Chief, the armored space Marine who’s the star of the game.

The last time there was such fanfare to get studio interest was in 2001, when Endeavor sent out Glen Morgan and James Wong‘s script for a remake of horror pic “Willard” in a cage with real rats.

While the “Terminator 3” script from Intermedia didn’t come via a cyborg, execs were required to read it under a watchful eye from a financier rep — just as Master Chief immediately retook possession of the “Halo” scripts June 6.

Tech company is no doubt hoping to spark the kind of bidding wars scribes like Eszterhas and Shane Black generated in the early ’90s when projects like “Showgirls” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” sold for millions.

But such pics have a mixed record, with “Willard” and “Showgirls” unqualified flops and “T3” the only hit of the bunch.

And “Halo” looks unlikely to enter the ethos of legendary Hollywood bidding wars for one simple reason: Microsoft’s request for $10 million against 15% of the gross and a January start date isn’t doable with a script many studio execs say is simply not up to snuff.

DreamWorks, New Line and Paramount all passed.

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