BioShock Director Explains Why The Film Will Break The Curse Of Video Game Movies


Finally things get real for BioShock movie on Netflix. After failed attempts to bring the video game masterpiece to the big screen, the streamer is now moving full speed ahead on the project with The hunger Games director Francois Laurent ready to try his luck to avoid the typical pitfalls of video game movies. With the recent announcement of his involvement, Lawrence with Collider’s own Steve Weintraub on the state of the script during the press tour of his next film Slumberland. He also talked about why he thinks the film can break the dreaded curse of video game movies.

The script for the film is in the expert hands of Blade Runner 2049 writer Michael Green, which Lawrence says is currently in the process of getting rid of it. The two have already planned out what will happen in the adaptation, so it’s more about giving Green the time and space to get through it. There is a high level of confidence that BioShock is finally taking off 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 writing it right now. We already have our point of view, our plan and all that kind of stuff, so everything is done. He is now writing. That’s why I said it was a real possibility of [it] be the next step.

Scriptwriting, however, is only one piece of the puzzle. The problem with video game movies is that it’s often difficult to translate a normally interactive experience into something entirely observational. For games with very little story, like the Super Mario series, you often have to take liberties with the source material to create something compelling in the space where the gameplay would be. BioShock faces a somewhat different problem. The franchise moved between the ruined underwater city of Rapture in the first two installments to the floating city of Columbia in Bioshock Infinitetelling emotionally complex stories about what it means to be in control, how American exceptionalism can turn into frightening hellscapes and find hope in these terrifying worlds.

A screenshot of BioShock
Picture via 2K games

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Lawrence feels BioShock May break the video game movie curse

BioShock would need to translate those same themes without simply retreading the old gameplay-less terrain. However, Lawrence is not lacking in confidence when it comes to adapting the game. He had no trouble shooting Suzanne CollinThe hunger Games novels into a wildly successful blockbuster franchise after all. Video game adaptations have also improved their track record lately with the sonic the hedgehog films that find success on the big screen while the witcher has become one of Netflix’s biggest properties. That’s not to mention other upcoming adaptations like Ghost of Tsushima and The last of us. When asked what it was BioShock which made him believe it would be a great film, he cited the thoughtful nature of the games as well as the gravity of its premise and its weaving of different ideas as reasons why the film could reach a new audience. He added:

First of all, I think it’s one of the best games ever made. It’s also, I think, one of the most visually unique games ever made. The other thing, and one of the things that I always like, is that it’s very thematic. There are real ideas and philosophies under the ownership of the game, and it’s really, really, really thought out. A lot of games can have a great world, or they can have a great main character, or they can set you up for some great set pieces, but they don’t really have the ideas, they don’t have the kind of clout and the gravity that Bioshock Is. The kind of combo of actual ideas and philosophies mixed with the amazing aesthetics of this one. Also, one of the other things that I love, love, love is this kind of weird genre-blending, the idea that you have what looks like a period piece, mixed with body horror, mixed with science fiction. 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 which he believes will help him create a loyal BioShock film without studio interference. He went on to talk about his discussions with Take-Two Interactive and Ken Levinthe man largely responsible for developing the concept of BioShock:

There are always discussions about notation and tone. I don’t want to dwell on it too much now because it’s pretty early in the process, but I certainly didn’t feel smothered or sent in any direction with Netflix. I mean basically me and Cameron [MacConomy] who works with me, and Michael are able to do what we want to do, which is great. Much of it stays 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. However, he is convinced that BioShock delivers something meatier to the table that can survive the big screen move. When asked if he was aware of the disconnect in the adaptations, he added:

No, I know what you mean. When I think about it, I go back to what we talked about earlier, that there are great video games out there, but they don’t always have the weight of real underlying ideas. Sometimes they have a nice aesthetic or something, but I often feel like they end up feeling empty because they’re not built from real ideas. The thing is, BioShock it’s true. All the mythology of this world and the ideas behind it, there’s so much out there.

We’ll have more here at Collider as the BioShock the movie starts. Keep an eye out for our full interview with Lawrence and watch the trailer for BioShock: The Collection below for an overview of everything the series has to offer.


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