BioShock Movie Director Explains Why It Was Cancelled

BioShock Movie Director Explains Why It Was Cancelled

Written by 

Tom Chapman


5th Mar 2021 14:31

When it comes to the cancelled BioShock movie, it sounds like director Gore Verbinski felt the wrath of the studios and wasn't allowed to make the bloody and R-rated version of the video game series he'd wanted to. Known for his work directing the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Verbinski sounds like he would've been the perfect choice to take a drip into the nautical nightmares of Rapture. Unfortunately, Verbinski butted heads with Universal and left the project adrift in the oceans of development hell. 

First released in 2007, BioShock was a steampunk-inspired survival horror game that took us to the depths of the ocean and the futuristic city of Rapture. The first entry was a hit and quickly led to BioShock 2 in 2010. There was a soft reboot and a move to the floating city of Columbia for BioShock: Infinite in 2013, while there are continued hopes BioShock 4 isn't too far away. Since the first game, BioShock has been tipped for a trip to the silver screen, however, it's sadly never come to pass. 


Why was the BioShock movie cancelled?

Speaking to Collider, Verbinski explained what happened to his vision for BioShock and how he came to part ways with the project. Discussing his original pitch, Verbinski told the site, "It was talked about as one movie. And it was strange, my first meeting at Universal on 'Bioshock' was sitting in a room and saying, 'Hey guys, this is a $200 million R rated movie.' And it was silent. I remember my agent going, 'Why did you say that?' I'm like, because it is."

The sheer scale of the movie - coupled with a gritty R rating - put execs off from the very start. He continued, "That's before getting a scripted before anything. I'm just I just want to be clear. And I think everybody at the studio was well, yeah, okay, maybe. Wow, no. It's big, we know". Describing the whole thing as a "waste of time", he said BioShock's hope to stay faithful to the first game and keep its bloody backdrop was the nail in the coffin. "There are those people that deal with data. So, it was like new data that said, don't make the movie. So, fair enough", said Verbinksi.

"It was a glorious waste of time because I tried to be super clear, just absolutely honest, it's R-rated... That was even before, we're walking in with a, we've talked to the video game company. We've talked to [game director Ken] Levine, we're ready to go. Do you want to make it? I just said it, there was silence in the room full of 30 executives, marketing departments, everybody. Really tried to do this, so don't waste everybody's time if you're not going to make it."

It's important to remember that R-rated movies weren't that big back then, with the elusive rating being reserved for the likes of The Matrix and The Passion of the Christ. These days, it's easy to imagine someone with the gravitas of Verbinski being handed his BioShock. There's also been a resurgence in live-action video game movies and TV shows thanks to Tomb RaiderUnchartedThe Last of Us, and Resident Evil


What else do we know about the cancelled BioShock movie?

The BioShock movie was first announced in 2009 and had a potential all-star list of actors that included Eddie Redmayne and Jamie Dornan auditioning. Prison Break's Wentworth Miller hinted that he'd landed a role, there were screen tests for characters, Verbinski was circling a whopping $200 million budget, and the director said there were "all kinds of crazy stuff" from the pre-production stage. In 2017, Verbinski told IGN just how close we were and claimed the movie was just eight weeks away from shooting.

Universal was rightly wary about BioShock sinking after Zack Snyder's equally epic Watchmen failed to be the massive hit Warner Bros. had hoped for in 2009. Since his idea for BioShock floundered, Verbinski has said Tim Miller's R-rated hit Deadpool has given justification to his pitch. R-rated movies are everywhere now, with Deadpool, Deadpool 2JokerIt, and Logan (among others) proving we have an appetite for this kind of movie. Sadly, it's likely that Verbinski's BioShock will never come to pass as the movie slips into the abyss alongside Guillermo del Toro's Helboy 3 and George Miller's Justice League Mortal

Thankfully, the BioShock name has continued to go from strength to strength and broken free from its cult roots. Despite the lengthy wait between Infinite and whatever comes next, there's still a loyal fanbase that goes far beyond a trilogy of video games. Either way, an R-rated BioShock is the only way to move forward. With so much emphasis on video game TV shows, we wouldn't be that surprised if a BioShock series is announced in the near future. If this is the case, someone should get Verbinski on the phone.


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