Studio signs deal to become primary licensor

Fox is back in the “Halo” business.

Less than a year after its plans to co-produce with Universal a movie based on Microsoft’s hit videogame franchise were abruptly canceled, 20th Century Fox has signed a deal to become the primary licensor for “Halo.”

That means the studio will handle worldwide merchandise licensing for “Halo” on behalf of the tech giant.

Though the unsuccessful film development helped bring the two companies closer together, Fox’s licensing division has a longer relationship with Microsoft. It handled similar duties for “Perfect Dark Zero” and “Kameo: Elements of Power,” two Microsoft-published games that came out in late 2005 in conjunction with the launch of the Xbox 360.

“Those two games established our relationship with them as a licensing agency, and those conversations continued during the same time that a ‘Halo’ film was in development here,” said Elie Dekel, exec VP of domestic licensing for Fox.

He added that Fox’s licensing division focuses primarily on teens and young adults instead of kids, as some other studios do, which makes “Halo” a good fit.

Fox is aiming to launch a broad array of products, from books to apparel to collectible merchandise, in conjunction with the release of “Halo 3″ in September. But given the huge popularity of the vidgame series, Dekel said he’s confident his division can continue to sell licensed products in the next few years until a fourth “Halo” game comes out.

“Halo” is one of the videogame industry’s most popular franchises. Original game and “Halo 2″ have sold more than 14.5 million units.

Fox is already in various stages of discussion with several dozen licenses and will be talking to potential partners at this week’s Toy Fair in Gotham.

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