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    Halo 3's Heavenly Debut

    Halo 3 is only one day old, and it has already earned its wings.

    The long-awaited third installment of one of the world's biggest videogame titles was a force to be reckoned with Tuesday, racking up $170 million in opening-day sales—a figure that does not even include overseas numbers.

    According to Microsoft, which makes Halo 3's only compatible console, the Xbox 360, the threequel accounted for the biggest entertainment launch in history, besting the previous record set by Spider-Man 3, which earned $151 million at the box office in its opening weekend.

    Hence, Halo 3 obviously smashed Spidey's single-day earnings of $59.8 million, not to mention Halo 2's 24-hour take of $125 million in 2004.

    "The initial demand we've seen for Halo 3 has been astounding, and the game is on track to become the number one gaming title of all time," Best Buy VP Jill Hamburger told the Hollywood Reporter Wednesday.

    More than 1 million copies of the game were preordered in anticipation of Monday's launch. Subsequently, about 10,000 retailers opened their doors at midnight to welcome the throngs of gamers eager to get their hands on a copy of the first-person shooter extravaganza, which features a host of new weapons and vehicles, reoptimized graphics, more dialogue and better sound and myriad other features meant to one-up Halo 2.

    "It's the last part of our Halo trilogy," Bungie Studios game developer Frank O'Conner told Voice of America. "It is confidently the best game we ever made as a studio. We're really happy with it. Our review scores came in yesterday, we're really happy with those, but most importantly we're looking forward to actually playing with real people."

    Microsoft said in a statement Wednesday that upwards of 1 million members of its Xbox Live gaming service played Halo 3 online in its first 20 hours out of the gate, making Tuesday the most active day ever for the platform.

    Meanwhile, despite both its widespread and cultish popularity and the fact that millions of people are going to shell out $59.99 to continue the raging war between the Covenant and the Master Chief in their living rooms, a feature-film version of Halo is having trouble getting off the ground—even though game-to-movie adaptations such as Resident Evil have done big business.

    Peter Jackson was originally attached to helm Halo's first foray onto the big screen, but he and Microsoft backed away from the project in October, after Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox unexpectedly pulled their financing.

    But perhaps Microsoft finally ending up in the black at the end of the year will be enough of an indicator to Hollywood that the demand for a Halo film is out there.

    In other glowing Halo news, Microsoft said today it will gladly replace free of charge  until the end of 2007 any new Halo 3 disc that came out of the box scratched or otherwise damaged.

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