Three recently registered domain names may offer a blast of hope to those wanting to see a big screen version of Irrational Games’ BioShock franchise. Sony Pictures Entertainment has registered the domains bioshock-movie.com, bioshock-movie.net, and bio-shock.net, according to Kotaku.
Registering a domain name in itself doesn’t mean much and the sites aren’t currently active, but it gets minds racing once again about a Hollywood project that was recently confirmed as dead by the series’ creator. A BioShock film was in various stages of development at Universal for years, with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski attached to helm. Throughout it all, Verbinski remained adamant that the film needed to be rated R, something studios are often hesitant to do with big budget films due to the potentially smaller audience. Universal initially allowed him to pursue that vision, but the expected $160 million budget wasn’t acceptable, and production was halted just weeks before filming was set to begin.
Verbinski stepped back but remained on as a producer following the delay. That prompted the studio to hire 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo to helm the adaptation. The budget remained an issue though, and Fresnadillo backed out mere months after signing on. Soon after, the decision to kill the film ended up with the game’s creator, Ken Levine.
Levine claimed Universal balked at a big budget, R-rated film following the lackluster results of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. Both Levine and Verbinski felt the film needed to retain the more mature focus, but the studio would only accept that if the budget was under $80 million. BioShock’s publisher 2K then went to Levine and asked what he wanted to do.
“So [2K] said if you want to kill it, kill it. And I killed it,” Levine told Eurogamer. That seemed to be the end of it, with Universal pulling all support of the film. The new domain registrations by Sony seem to suggest that the film is at least somewhat alive though, and now in the hands of a new studio.
Sony Pictures has shown a good deal of interest in bringing video game properties to the big screen. It continues to push ahead with an Uncharted film project despite losing both David O. Russell and Neil Burger as directors, and a God of War film has been rumored to be in various stages of development for years. The studio is also teaming with Ubisoft to distribute several of the French publisher’s film projects, including Assassin’s Creed and an animated film based on the Rabbids games.
Without any firm details to latch onto, it’s unclear exactly who would be involved in the film. A recent report from IGN quoted Courtnee Draper, the voice actor behind Elizabeth in BioShoick Infinite, as actively campaigning Levine to reprise her role.
“It’s something I’ve been talking to Ken about too because I’m excited for it, I’d be really excited to see that come to life on the big screen,” Draper replied when asked if she would be interested in revisiting the Elizabeth role for a movie.
At the time it didn’t seem like anything more than idle discussion, but things have changed significantly since the last time a potential BioShock movie was in the news. Levine recently announced the shutdown of Irrational alongside his new plan to develop smaller story-driven games than he’s previously attempted. He’s also currently working as a Hollywood screenwriter, having been hired to write Logan’s Run last year. With Sony apparently holding the rights now to a BioShock movie and Levine completely free of the AAA game development crunch, the chances of an adaptation happening seem as likely now as they’ve ever been.