There are two types of video games that attract Hollywood’s interest. The first is one that just becomes so iconic that everyone wants to see it on the screen whether or not it really makes sense as a “movie” — think Sonic the Hedgehog, Detective Pikachu or Mortal Kombat. The second is one that sort of seems like it has a “movie feel” to it, like Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed or Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg’s new Uncharted adaptation. In both cases, the track record is spotty at best. In no case will people stop trying. Chris Pratt was recently cast to voice Mario in a new Super Mario Bros movie. Oscar Isaac will be Solid Snake in an upcoming Metal Gear adaptation. Pedro Pascal will lead HBO’s Last of Us series.
And now, it’s Bioshock’s turn.
The 2007 first-person spookfest is about an underwater city populated by mutated humans and dangerous people/diving suit hybrids called Big Daddies. It’s an impressive spectacle, but a narrative that works in a game just doesn’t always translate to the screen, and you can look at any number of video game movies for proof. It’s probably telling that the most successful video game movie is Wreck-It Ralph, which doesn’t really count.
It’s not Bioshock‘s first time at bat. Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski was lined up for a Bioshock movie in the past, but kept butting heads with the studio and eventually left altogether. It’s unclear who will be in charge of Netflix’s adaptation, but the streamer has proved successful at this sort of thing in the past, with The Witcher pulling in a big audience. And Bioshock does have some thematic heft, with an abiding interest in free will and the human capacity (or lack thereof) to create utopia on earth. Of course, “free will” hits a little harder when you’re the one pressing the buttons, so we’ll see how the story translates.