At long last, things are getting real for BioShock movie at Netflix. After failed attempts to bring the video game masterpiece to the silver screen, the streamer is now moving full speed ahead on the project with The Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence set to try his luck at avoiding the typical video game movie pitfalls. With the recent announcement of his involvement, Lawrence with Collider’s own Steve Weintraub about the status of the script during the press tour for his upcoming film slumber country. He also spoke about why he feels the film can break the dreaded video game movie curse.
The script for the film lay in the capable hands of Blade Runner 2049 writer Michael Green, who Lawrence says is currently plugging away at it. The two have already planned out what will happen in the adaptation, so it’s more a matter of giving Green the time and space to get through it. There’s a high level of confidence that BioShock is finally getting off the ground with Netflix, as Lawrence explains:
Well, Michael Green, who wrote Blade Runner 2049, among other things, and who’s been a friend of mine for years, he’s writing it, and he’s in the middle of writing it right now. We already have our take, outline, and all that kind of stuff, so that’s all done. He’s now just actually writing. That’s why I said it’s a real possibility of [it] being what’s next.
Script writing is just one piece of the puzzle though. The problem with video game movies is that it’s often hard to translate a normally interactive experience into a medium based totally on observation. For games with very little story, like the Super Mario series, it often requires taking liberties with the source material to create something compelling in the space where gameplay would be. BioShock faces a somewhat different issue. The franchise has moved between the ruined underwater city of Rapture in the first two installations to the floating city of Columbia in BioShock: Infinitetelling emotionally complex tales of what it means to be in control, how American exceptionalism can turn into frightening hellscapes, and finding hope in these terrifying worlds.
Lawrence Feels BioShock Can Break the Video Game Movie Curse
BioShock would need to translate those same themes while not simply retreading old ground sans gameplay. Lawrence isn’t lacking in confidence when it comes to adapting the game, however. He had no trouble turning Suzanne Colins‘ The Hunger Games novels into a wildly successful blockbuster franchise after all. Video game adaptations have also improved their track record of late with the Sonic the Hedgehog films finding success on the big screen while The Witcher became one of Netflix’s biggest properties. This is without mentioning other upcoming adaptations like Ghost of Tsushima other The Last of Us. When asked what it was about BioShock that made him believe it would be a great movie, he cited the thoughtful nature of the games as well as the gravitas in its premise and its weave of different ideas as reasons the film could hit home with a new audience. He added:
First of all, I think it’s one of the best games ever created. It’s also, I think, one of the most visually unique games ever created. The other thing, and one of the things that always appeals to me, is it is very thematic. There’s real ideas and philosophies underneath the game property, and it’s really, really, really thought out. A lot of games may have a great world of some kind, or they may have a great lead character, or they may tee you up for great set-pieces, but they don’t really have the ideas, they don’t have the kind of weight and the gravitas that Bioshock does. The sort of combo of real ideas and philosophies mixed with the unbelievable aesthetic of it. Plus, one of the other things that I love, love, love is that sort of strange mashup of genre, the idea that you have what feels like a period piece, mixed with body horror, mixed with sci-fi. It’s one of those great mashups, and I think it can be really unique and really beautiful and really entertaining.
Working with Netflix has also given Lawrence a sense of freedom that he believes will help him create a faithful BioShock film without studio interference. He continued on, talking about his discussions with Take-Two Interactive and Ken Levinthe man largely responsible for developing the concept for BioShock:
There’s always discussions about rating and tone. I don’t want to get into it too much now because it’s pretty early on in the process, but I certainly haven’t felt stifled in any way, or sent in any directions with Netflix. I mean, basically me and Cameron [MacConomy] who works with me, and Michael are getting to do what we want to do, which is great. A lot of it is staying really true to the game itself, and we’re talking to Take-Two [Interactive] and Ken Levine.
Despite the confidence, Lawrence is fully aware of how video game movies have failed in the past. Still, he’s convinced that BioShock offers something meatier to the table that can survive the jump to the big screen. When asked if he knew about the disconnect in adaptations, he added:
No, I do know what you mean. When I think about that, I go back to what we talked about earlier, which is I think that there’s some great video games out there, but they don’t always have the weight of actual ideas underneath them. Sometimes they have a great aesthetic or something like that, but I feel like often they end up feeling empty because they’re not built from real ideas. the thing is BioShock really is. The whole mythology of that world and the ideas behind it all, there’s just so much there.
We’ll have more here at Collider as the BioShock movie gets underway. Keep an eye out for our full interview with Lawrence and check out the trailer for BioShock: The Collection below for a look at everything the series has to offer.