'Pirate's' Verbinski to helm Bioshock for Universal

by Paul William Tenny

bioshock.jpgAlthough the success-to-failure ratio for films based on video games is dismal, that isn't stopping anyone from trying. Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski is set to direct Bioshock at Universal. If you're a PC gamer then you've undoubtedly heard this name before -- Bioshock is one of the more visible releases over the past few years, but not really in the same league as industry leaders Halo, or Grand Theft Auto. On the other hand, neither of those game franchises has managed to get films green lit so far, either.
Couple things here that bother me. First being that studios place too much weight on directors and actors and not enough on writers. A big name can get a movie green lit, but not from the latter group. Never, actually. Verbinski obviously was enough to get this one going, which I guess is fine since he's successful and worth the trust, but is he alone a solid bet for success on a project that requires a hell of a lot more than one guy? According to the Variety story they don't even have a writer yet, but are just looking at people. Seriously? They don't even have a story to shoot but somehow the movie is moving forward based soley on one guy -- who isn't a writer -- being involved? If anything sells Hollywood insanity (and also explains a 90%+ failure rate) it's going to be stories like this.

I also have trouble believing it's as solid as Take-Two wants everyone to believe it is.

Take-Two executive chairman Strauss Zelnick said the "state of the art" deal is structured so that "Bioshock" won't end up in turnaround like "Halo," which is back with Microsoft. "The reason I structured it the way I did is to make sure it gets made," he emphasized.

I'm guessing that by "state of the art" he means "my lawyers tell me it's perfect", which is of course a ridiculous assertion. Take-Two has no experience dealing with these studios that have been around a lot longer than they have, and they don't understand that these guys been specializing in worming out of contract language that looks like a lock for like half a century. If Universal changes its mind, I guarantee you they'll find a way out -- it's how they stay in business. And shouldn't Take-Two be just a little concerned about Universal's history in this area? Peter Jackson was attached to the Halo 3 -- being pushed by Microsoft, perhaps one of the few companies in the world more powerful than the studios are that isn't an oil company -- couldn't get traction.

Best of luck to them and I hope this becomes a hell of a movie, one which, by the way, is completely unknown outside the small gaming clique Take-Two thinks is a lot larger than it really is. No matter how good the resulting product is, it still has to appeal to a wide audience to succeed and so far, I don't get the feeling that Bioshock can deliver. And this is all without even knowing who is going to do the bulk of the creative work for the film by writing it.
in Film, Games


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