In February, Netflix announced its plans to develop a Bioshock film in a tweet stating, “Netflix + BioShock. Would you kindly stay tuned?”. Francis Lawrence, who is known for directing The Hunger Games, joined the project as the film’s director. Recently Lawrence spoke with a journalist from collider.com about avoiding the pitfalls that plague many film adaptations of video games.
Lawrence and scriptwriter Michael Green have already fleshed out an outline for the upcoming film. Green has proven his screenplay skills, having written the scripts for Blade Runner 2049 and Logan. Lawrence, Green is in the process of writing the script now.
The Curse of Video Game-Based Movies
Film adaptations of popular video game franchises are nothing new. Super Mario Bros., a film based on Nintendo’s Super Mario, was released in 1993, while the original Mortal Kombat hit theaters in 1995. The bad news is that film adaptations of games often receive poor reviews, partly due to the difficulty of translating an interactive experience into a linear narrative.
Fact is, that while the game’s characters and themes might make perfect sense for collecting mushrooms or ripping out spines, spinning that out for a 90 minute narrative that hits all the beats for a start, middle and end means that somewhere a little poetic licence has to be deployed – and more than a few fans upset.
For instance, having little to work with other than battling Bowser and learning that Princess Peach is in another castle. Super Mario Bros. ended up being a ludicrous film in which Mario and Luigi enter the underground city of Dinohattan and rescue a kidnapped paleontologist.
And that’s just the beginning
It’s not just film adaptations of games that lack a defined story that struggle. Films like 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and 2016’s Assassin’s Creed, both of which centre around games that have in-depth plots, ALSO failed to be fully embraced by the gaming community.
That said, Lawrence, however, is confident he and Green can avoid the proverbial curse of video-game film adaptations. He goes on to state that, in his opinion, it is the best game ever created.
“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,” Lawrence told collider.com.
Lawrence when on to explain that Netflix and Take-Two Interactive are allotting him and Green the freedom to create the film their way. However, Lawrence assures that the film stays true to the game franchise.
Cross your fingers – more game-based movies incoming…
Beyond Bioshock is just one of the many video game series getting the Hollywood treatment. HBO Max is launching a live-action series adaptation of the hit zombie apocalypse title, The Last of Us. Netflix plans to create a Gears of War feature-length film, while Sony is developing a Gran Turismo movie.