BioShock Movie Might Be In The Works Again, Finally, Maybe

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BioShockIf you’re going to make a video game into a movie, you could certainly do a lot worse than adapting 2K Games/Irrational Studios’ BioShock. It’s got a great, complex narrative capped by one of the best twists in gaming history, all set inside a stunning, crumbling undersea city known as Rapture. With the right script and the right director, BioShock could be the first truly good video-game movie…if only somebody could get the damn thing made. Well, after being stalled in development hell at Universal for several years, it looks like BioShock might get another chance to reach the big screen with a different studio…maybe.

Sadly, nothing has been greenlit, and we don’t have some hot new actor or director who’s keen to make a BioShock movie happen. Instead it all comes down to a small but noteworthy happening. As reported by Kotaku, last month Sony registered the domain names bioshock-movie.com, bioshock-movie.net, and bio-shock.net. That certainly doesn’t mean a BioShock film has been put on the fast track, but it does suggest that Sony is exploring the possibility. Sony already has other projects based on games in development, including Uncharted and The Last of Us.

If you recall, the BioShock movie was originally going to be directed by Pirates of the Caribbean helmer Gore Verbinski. It had a $200 million budget, was aiming for an R rating, and could easily have been a franchise starter for Universal if it had all come together properly. Unfortunately, Zack Snyder’s Watchmen came and flopped and went, and Irrational Games’ Ken Leving eventually revealed that Watchmen’s under-performance had soured Universal on the prospect of an expensive, R-rated sci-fi/fantasy film based on a game that, let’s face it, most mainstream moviegoers have never heard of.

The BioShock movie was then rejiggered into an $80 million flick that was to be directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later). Eventually Levine decided things had gone pear shaped and it was time to pull the plug on the entire enterprise, and so BioShock: The Movie was tucked away in a dusty corner as one of those great “could have been amazing” stories.

If BioShock really is about to get another chance at Sony, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. Marvel has had unprecedented success with its superheroic Cinematic Universe, and YA hits like The Hunger Gamers continue to be box-office giants, but one type of source material that has yet to be cracked in the film industry is video games. It’s just a matter of time before we get the right mix of source material, passion, and talent, before we see the game equivalent of, say, the first Iron Man movie. Sony’s already trying to build its own geek-friendly franchise with the Spider-Man films and the planned spin-offs, but you know they’d love to get in on the ground floor of game movies, if that’s going to be the next trend. And given that the Assassin’s Creed movie is already looking like a very promising contender thanks to its lead actor Michael Fassbender and a summer 2015 release date, having a BioShock movie in the pipeline could definitely be a boon for Sony if Assassin’s Creed does prove to be a hit.

In BioShock, players take the role of an unspeaking protagonist named Jack, who, after a plane crash at sea, washes up at a lighthouse and finds his way into the failed undersea utopia of Rapture. Exploring and trying to find a way to escape, Jack learns the tragic history of the city, which is now overrun with murderous, super-powered psychopaths and creepy, genetically modified little girls protected by violent behemoths in diving suits called “Big Daddies.” There’s most definitely the seed of an amazing movie there.

But while BioShock is easily one of the best video games ever made, there are narrative hurdles to surmount in order to get a successful film out of it. For one, Jack is essentially a cipher, a name and a set of hands that serve as the player’s proxy, and while we do learn about his own history and ties to Rapture, he doesn’t really have any personality — that’s by design, but still. A BioShock movie is going to need to expand Jack’s character quite a bit. It’s also worth noting that the game’s infamous third-act twist, while brilliant, relies heavily on the interactive nature of the story. I’m sure they can find a way to make it work on the big screen, but I’m dubious that it will have the same impact after two hours spent passive in a theater that it did after 15 or so hours “being” Jack.

One big question is, if Sony really is getting their ducks in a row for a new attempt at a BioShock movie, is Levine involved? Or maybe even writing the screenplay? He’s already working on the script for the Logan’s Run reboot, so it wouldn’t be outside his wheelhouse at this point.

We’ll keep you posted when there’s more to know about BioShock: The (Possible) Movie. In the meantime, here’s some lovely concept art from the aborted Gore Verbinski version, created by artist Tim Flattery.