There’s been no talk of the long-rumored BioShock movie for quite some time now, and for good reason…because the anticipated cinematic adaptation has been killed off.
The movie was first in the hands of Gore Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the upcoming Lone Ranger, who had plans to remain faithful to the adult-aimed game with a brutal, R-rated movie take on the story of Andrew Ryan and his dream, the underwater city of Rapture, which began as a government-less utopian heaven and quickly descended into a anarchic dystopian hell.
After Verbinski decided to leave the project, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was chosen to take his place, and the faithful R-rated movie was still being promised. But that attempt also never found its legs, and Fresnadillo also walked away from the movie.
The only real BioShock news we’ve been hearing since then has been about BioShock Infinite, the upcoming prequel game that was first announced back in August of 2010, and first truly blew our minds in September of that same year. The game has been delayed a couple of times since then, making for a tortuous two-and-a-half-year wait, but it finally reaches our eyes in just a couple of short weeks.
The creator of BioShock and Infinite lead designer Ken Levine spoke at a BAFTA talk recently, and filled in some small details about the BioShock movie story, the path it traveled, and why he chose to end it:
“There was a deal in place, and it was in production at Universal – Gore Verbinski was directing it. My theory is that Gore wanted to make a hard R film – which is like a 17/18 plus, where you can have blood and naked girls. Well, I don’t think he wanted naked girls. But he wanted a lot of blood.
Then Watchmen came out, and it didn’t do well for whatever reason. The studio then got cold feet about making an R rated $200 million film, and they said what if it was a $80 million film – and Gore didn’t want to make a $80 million film.
They brought another director in, and I didn’t really see the match there – and 2K’s one of these companies that puts a lot of creative trust in people. So they said if you want to kill it, kill it. And I killed it.”
Universal was the same studio that got scared about Guillermo del Toro’s big-budget R-rated horror At the Mountains of Madness, and also Ron Howard’s massive adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, so there’s no big surprise about them running away from a big-budget R-rated BioShock movie.
Levine then spoke about how strange it was to kill something he cared about and worked hard to see become a reality, especially as someone who began his career as a screenwriter:
“It was weird, as having been a screenwriter, begging to do anything, and then killing a movie on something you’d worked on so much.
It was saying I don’t need to compromise – how many times in life do you not need to compromise? It comes along so rarely, but I had the world, the world existed and I didn’t want to see it done in a way that I didn’t think was right. It may happen one day, who knows, but it’d have to be the right combination of people.”
That last line is important; this sort of thing happens all the time, and it’s good to know there’s still people out there who hold quality paramount over financial gain, as Levine does. We know how often video game movies fail, and I as a massive fan of the game would only want a movie if it’s going to be done properly. Perhaps with the swell of video game movies on the way—such as Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, and Ghost Recon—chances for a BioShock movie will improve.