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Hobbit hero hops to 'Halo'

Peter Jackson is joining the “Halo” covenant.

Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh have signed on as exec producers for Universal and Fox’s “Halo.”

Details on Jackson and Walsh’s deal weren’t available, but it’s believed to include a seven-figure advance against gross points.

Deal creates a costly proposition: cumulative gross participation now stands at around 15% — and that’s before a director or talent is attached.

Jackson will not helm the pic; his next project will be “The Lovely Bones,” an adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel.

“Halo” will be shot entirely in New Zealand, where Weta Digital and Weta Workshop, both of which Jackson co-owns, and Stone Street Studios and Park Road Post, both of which he wholly owns, will provide f/x and post services.

Former U production topper Mary Parent, who is working on “King Kong” with Jackson, helped bring him and Walsh onto the pic. She and partner Scott Stuber are also now taking producer duties along with Peter Schlessel, who has been working on the pic with Microsoft for over a year.

Game publisher Microsoft is already getting 10% of the gross against a $5 million advance from U and Fox, which are splitting production costs and revenue, with U handling domestic distrib and Fox overseas.

“Halo” marks the first time Jackson and Walsh have produced a major studio pic that the “Lord of the Rings” mastermind didn’t helm. Jackson’s manager Ken Kamins confirmed he won’t direct “Halo.”

Process to bring the duo on board began when it became clear that Weta, Stone Street and Park Road, which were built out to handle the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, would for the first time be idle following the completion of “Kong.”

In a deal facilitated by Parent, U and Fox decided to use the facilities for “Halo” and film the pic in New Zealand.

With their shops and native land already intimately involved, it was a natural next step for Jackson and Walsh to sign on as exec producers.

They will provide consultation services from script development to production to post.

“We have all been involved with Peter for the last two years with ‘King Kong’ and were talking considering lots of projects to expand our relationship with him and Fran,” explained U chairman Stacey Snider. “He’s a big game fan and knew of the project before the producers even came on board.”

Alex Garland, who was paid $1 million by Microsoft to pen the adaptation, is currently revising the script, which garnered very mixed reactions when it hit town in June.

U and Fox are currently searching for a director and hope to start production in the spring for a summer 2007 release.

“‘Halo,’ Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh, Fox, Universal and Microsoft. That is one hell of a starting five, and we can’t wait to play,” Fox toppers Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopoulos said in a statement.

Signing already has vidgamers blogging and posting in ecstasy on the Net. Addition of the fanboy-adored Jackson gives pic credibility amongst those who will likely crowd theaters on its opening weekend.

Joseph Staten, writer of the “Halo 2” game and Pete Parsons, manager of “Halo” developer Bungie Studios, which Microsoft owns, are flying to New Zealand next week to discuss the pic with Jackson and Walsh.

U’s Donna Langley and Fox’s Hutch Parker, production prexies for their respective studios, are overseeing.

(Michael Fleming contributed to this report.)

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