“I see this…as a new beginning.”
That’s the line the new trailer for Paramount+’s “Halo” series end on. A full series involving one of the biggest names in gaming since Mario? That’s a pretty potent formula to work with, all right. It’s enough to make some wonder if this could ultimately give Paramount+ the same boost that “The Mandalorian.” gave Disney+. It’s entirely possible, but first, we have to inspect a few key factors.
After the fall of the Galactic Empire, lawlessness has spread throughout the galaxy. A lone gunfighter makes his way through the outer reaches, earning his keep as a bounty hunter.
Are Paramount +’s Numbers There?
The first factor to consider is whether or not Paramount+ has the raw numbers to make the most of a major new show.
Paramount+ has been actively working to ramp up its subscriber rates in recent days, mainly by focusing on expanding the number of places in which it can be streamed. The latest effort saw Paramount+ land in South Korea, though that won’t fully kick in until next year. Given reports that Paramount+ was the fastest-growing brand in 2021, however, it’s safe to call its expansion efforts a success by any practical standard.
The combined force of Paramount+ and Showtime, meanwhile, accounts for around 47 million subscribers right now. How many of them are Paramount+ subscribers is unclear, but that’s still a substantial user base. It suggests there are opportunities for the user base to expand, yet there are already sufficient numbers on hand to make word-of-mouth campaigns effective as well.
Are Halo’s Numbers There?
81 million copies.
That’s how many copies of the various “Halo” titles have sold so far, says a report from Bloomberg Businessweek. Granted, there have been several games in that series over the years. And there’s also the issue of used and pirated games to consider, making it likely that Master Chief’s fanbase is actually a bit larger than a simple average would figure.
Without Halo’s numbers, Paramount+ would be effectively screaming at an empty room. If no one had heard of “Halo”, it could only appeal to military science fiction buffs. While there’s a good number of them out there, it’s definitely not going to produce the same impact of a long-time fan favorite like “The Mandalorian” did.
Pondering the Imponderables
So we have a substantial number of “Halo” fans out there, and a very substantial number of people watching Paramount+. That’s a good start. Without the basic catalyst of the numbers, it’s hard for any reaction to reach critical mass. But what else do we need to consider here?
The series has to be good. While there is a matter of the “video game curse” to consider—most adaptations of video games have been miserable failures due to poor quality—exceptions like the “[Sonic the Hedgehog]” movie need to be considered as well. If the “Halo” series is of sufficient quality, it will certainly pull current Master Chief fans, but it will also pull science fiction buffs that may never have heard of “Halo” to begin with. Long odds, I’m sure, but for those prone to motion sickness who find first-person shooters a trial, they may enjoy a different perspective on the character. A bad “Halo” series would be a disaster for Paramount+, who would likely see fans leave the platform altogether.
The series has to be well-promoted. Disney’s marketing machine is unmatched in the world. Like the Epic Rap Battle between Stan Lee and Jim Henson made clear, Disney conquered the world with three circles, a silhouette of Mickey Mouse. Disney+ started marketing early; Tom Bergeron plugged the series repeatedly during a Disney-themed episode of “Dancing With the Stars” ahead of its release, and it worked out well for Disney as the series’ popularity exploded. It only took until March of 2020 for half of US households with children under 10 to have Disney+ in their homes. Paramount+ is going to have to ramp up its efforts to make sure everyone knows about the “Halo” series before its launch.
A few names wouldn’t hurt. “Halo” has a fan base. No doubt about that. Pulling in some non-Halo-playing fans, though, might be as simple as adding a little celebrity appeal. That will hike production costs necessarily, but pulling in fans from other pools couldn’t hurt ahead of launch. The current roster for the series does seem a bit short on big-name starpower, but there’s always room for a guest appearance or two later on. Perhaps Bruce Campbell is available?
A Mandalorian Style Catalyst?
So now we can answer the question asked rhetorically way back in the opening. Can “Halo” be Paramount+’s “The Mandalorian”?
Yes. Absolutely it can.
Sure, there are a lot of moving parts in such an assertion. There are plenty of potential points of failure, too, where this whole concept goes flying apart like a Warthog in a multi-player game. But between Paramount+’s numbers, “Halo“‘s numbers, and a few basic points of design and marketing, a “Halo” series should be a champ for Paramount+.
It may not reach the same levels that “The Mandalorian” did. After all, the most famous Mandalorian of all, Boba Fett, has been a fan favorite for decades. Some of those fans have died waiting “The Mandalorian” to actually came out. But the idea that “Halo” could be Paramount+’s “The Mandalorian” is entirely possible and probably more likely to be the case than not. Even if it doesn’t quite define the platform like “The Mandalorian” did, it’s still likely to be at least a hit.
And it’s a very safe bet that Paramount+ is not going to turn up its nose at “just a hit.”