No idea in Hollywood ever dies for good, and so it is with a BioShock movie. Apparently, Sony has been making quiet noises behind the scenes of making that happen. And really, those noises should stay there.
BioShock’s Story Only Works In Video Games
The brief and painful history of video game adaptations is littered with terrible ideas. While a spare handful of movies have managed to be worth watching once, for the most part it’s crap.
That’s because video games are all about player agency: i.e. you run around and make things happen. It’s true that game designers set up events in a certain order for you to make happen, but the point is, you still flip the levers and shoot the mooks to continue the story. You are the protagonist. That’s the whole idea.
BioShock is essentially a game about the illusion of free will in video games, and that’s what gives the central twist its power. Ken Levine essentially yanks away the illusion inside the plot of the game and yanks your chain nice and hard. But that doesn’t work in a movie: You’re passively watching events unfold. It’s a cute twist, but it’s not going to do much.
The Political Message Will Be Removed
At minimum, doing BioShock remotely right, even if it’s Jason Statham in front of a green screen, is going to cost $80 million. Movie studios are often criticized for fearing art, but come on; if you’re dropping $80 million on something, you want to get that money back.
As a result, anything that might poke anybody is carefully sanded off. It doesn’t help that you can keep Andrew Ryan’s motivations vague and it still works. If Sony is faced with a choice between getting yelled at by people and not getting yelled at, they’ll take the latter every time.
It Won’t Be Rated R
Again, Sony wants to make its money back. Scrub off some of the gore, take out some of the profanity, and you’ve got a nice inoffensive horror/action flick.
And Most Importantly: Sony Knows It Doesn’t Need The Fandom
Part of the reason BioShock might be going to Sony is that Sony has learned it can essentially ignore the nerds and they’ll pay up anyway. This is the studio that heard the fans gripe, at length, about The Amazing Spider-Man and saw it make $750 million. The sequel, the subject of even more griping, just opened to $47 million worldwide and pantsed Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Sony doesn’t care what you think; Sony knows it’ll get you in the end.
In other words, if BioShock happens, it’ll be sanitized, dumbed down, and poorly translated. We’ll stick with the game, thanks.