Universal Pictures has inked a deal with Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy director Gore Verbinski to direct and produce a film version of Bioshock, last year's hit video game that sold more than 2 million units worldwide. John Logan (The Aviator) is in talks to write the screenplay.
According to Variety, "Bioshock" publisher Take-Two Interactive is getting a multimillion-dollar advance against gross points on the film. It is believed to be the biggest video game-to-movie deal since 2005, when Universal and Fox signed onto the since aborted Halo movie, for which Microsoft got $5 million against 10%.
"Bioshock" takes place in an underwater city based on the free market principles of Ayn Rand, but things have gone disastrously wrong. Players control a pilot who crash-lands at a secret entrance to the city, called Rapture, and is drawn into a power struggle during which he discovers that his will is not as free as he'd thought.
"I think the whole utopia-gone-wrong story that's cleverly unveiled to players is just brimming with cinematic potential," said Verbinski. "Of all the games I've played, this is one that I felt has a really strong narrative.
Verbinski noted that Rapture's art deco design and visually arresting characters, such as the mechanical Big Daddys who protect genetically mutated girls called Little Sisters, particularly inspired him to see the game as a film.
Though no release date is even being targeted, Verbinski said he plans to start pre-production as soon as Logan's script is finished and approved by all involved.
Take-Two is developing a "Bioshock" sequel that will be released in 2009, almost certainly before the film comes out.