BioShock Director Reveals Why The Movie Adaptation Was Cancelled

Bioshock The Collection
Image via 2K Games

The underwater paradise-turned-dystopian-nightmare setting of Irrational Games’ beloved BioShock may never find its way to the big screen for reasons recently revealed by Gore Verbinski.

For context, the director, whose previous film credits include Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango, had originally been attached to a project intended to bring Rapture to life and had pitched the idea to Universal back in the early 2010s. In a lengthy interview with Collider, he revealed how the adaptation first came about as well as his eagerness to inform executives of what would be necessary to do Ken Levine’s masterpiece the justice it deserved in live-action. Before discussions even had a chance to diverge into other areas, the filmmaker recalls how he was upfront during initial meetings, immediately stressing that the tragic tale would require a budget of $200 million and an accompanying R-rating.

Unsurprisingly, the concept of investing so much money into a movie with limited audience potential immediately set off alarm bells for the company, prompting it to stall the decision-making process instead of giving a definite “no.”

When push finally came to shove, Universal would pull the plug on the pic, an end result that, while foreseeable, Verbinski criticizes as a “glorious waste of time” as he had attempted at every turn to be “super clear, just absolutely honest, it’s R-rated.” Part of this unwillingness to take risks is attributed to Zack Snyder’s then relatively new Watchmen film (also R-rated) failing to dominate the box office as had been hoped and management was wary of taking a chance on the project.

An unfortunate outcome for all involved, for sure, but does this mean that BioShock is an impossible sell? Considering the hype surrounding Warner Bros.’ upcoming Mortal Kombat (which, admittedly, was created on a fraction of the budget proposed for Jack’s underwater adventure), absolutely not and with any luck, the recent spate of successful video game adaptations, in general, could prompt the studio to reconsider.