Bioshock

Way back in 2008, before A Cure for Wellness was even a twinkle in his eye, Gore Verbinski had plans to direct the Bioshock movie. But just as things seemed to be coming together, they all fall apart. In spring 2009, Universal abruptly pulled the plug over concerns about its ballooning budget, and by summer 2009, he’d ditched the video game movie entirely.

Still, that hasn’t stopped some fans from wondering what might have been and how it all went wrong. So recently, Verbinski addressed what, exactly, happened on that movie, and whether he would ever consider returning to it again. 

Verbinksi got the Bioshock movie question during a Reddit AMA session. Here’s how he explained what happened:

Well it’s no short answer to that question but we were eight weeks prior shooting when the plug was pulled. It’s an R rated movie. I wanted to keep it R rated, I felt like that would be appropriate, and it’s an expensive movie. It’s a massive world we’re creating and it’s not a world we can simply go to locations to shoot. “A Cure For Wellness”, we were able to really utilize a variety of location to create the world. “Bioshock” it wouldn’t work like that, we’d be building an entire underworld universe. So I think the combination of the price tag and the rating, universal just didn’t feel comfortable ultimately. At that time also there were some R rated, expensive R rated movies that were not working.

This explanation isn’t so different from what we’d already heard before, including from Verbinski himself — Universal was concerned about the budget. But this offers a bit more context. While Verbinski doesn’t name names, Bioshock creator Ken Levine has specifically cited Watchmen as the film that made studio execs nervous. (And let’s not even get into the dubious track record of video game adaptations, as most recently demonstrated by Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed.)

As Verbinski says, though, there’ve been some recent adult-oriented hits that might make an R-rated Bioshock movie seem slightly less risky to a studio executive in the present day. Would he ever consider returning to Bioshock, then? He doesn’t rule it out entirely, but he doesn’t sound all that interested in the idea either:

So I think things have changed and maybe there will be another chance, but it’s very difficult when you’re eight weeks away from shooting a movie you really can see in your head and you’ve almost filmed the entire thing, so emotionally you’re right at that transition from architect to becoming a contractor and that will be a difficult place to get back to.

Which, fair enough. Verbinski’s got enough on his plate without trying to resurrect a failed project from his past. Since Verbinski left Bioshock, he was replaced by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who also eventually walked away. Which, apparently, is just fine with Levine. As of now, the Bioshock movie does not look likely to ever happen.

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