New Line’s adaptation of the popular video game Gears of War has stalled and ground to nearly a halt.

The story and budget have been scaled back, according to the LA Times, shrinking the $100 million commitment to a “good chunk less than that” and pulling back the plot from a sprawling epic to a standard invasion story.

Gears of War Anya Stroud

Gears of War Damon Baird

Due to the changes, Len Wiseman, director of Live Free or Die Hard, is likely leaving the project after becoming attached in June 2008.  Instead he’ll focus his attention on Fox’s Nocturne described as a post-apocalyptic thriller.

G.I. Joe writer Stuart Beattie sparked interest in the concept by writing a spec treatment in 2007, and Wiseman worked to refine it with Chris Morgan (Wanted) and Billy Ray (Breach).  Producers are now looking for another writer for their new, smaller take.

Wiseman and producer Wyck Godfrey have been championing the epic feel of Gears since the beginning, promising a “world torn asunder” after Emergency Day and a possible trilogy arc.  The director said in January 2009, “The hope is that were wanting to do a three movies and really cover the bases on everything. Basically a harder edged Lord Of The Rings.”  While I’m sure New Line appreciated the plug for their hit franchise, it doesn’t look like they’re going for any sort of epic trilogy anymore.

An adaptation of Bioshock saw a similar fate after attaching Pirates trilogy director Gore Verbinski, who later bailed when Universal had concerns about the rising budget of an underwater thriller.