Ken Levine Explains Pulling The Plug On The Bioshock Movie

It’s been almost two years since Irrational Games developer Ken Levine was generating buzz for a potential screen adaption of his Bioshock game. In fact, for an extended period of time Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski was attached to direct the feature film. However, in an interview with, Levine revealed why the world of Rapture will forever remain in the video game realm.

“My theory is that Gore wanted to make a hard R film. 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 an $80 million film – and Gore didn’t want to make an $80 million film.”

At a glance, Bioshock appears to be an intellectual property ripe for translating to cinema. The immersive universe that Levine and his creative team built was filled with a unique sense of depth – and not just because it was set 10,000 leagues under the sea. But, as the exciting project began to slide towards development hell, Levine spoke of how apprehensive he felt following Verbinski’s exit as director.

“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.”

An admirable decision by Levine, bearing in mind the video game designer started his career as an inspiring screenwriter before landing a job at Irrational, so this is very much a predictment he can emphathise with. While fans of the game may conceive the cancellation as a victory, it’s hard not to sympathise with Levine’s personal decision.

In a post-Watchmen climate, it’s inevitable that Universal would be hesitant to adapt another R rated intellectual property. Still, Watchmen was released in 2009 and given the recent industry swell towards the video game medium – including the Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell film projects – it’s easy to imagine a monetary environment in which a Ken Levine Bioshock movie would see the light of day.

For now though, the Rapture fan base is very much focused on the release of Bioshock Infinite on March 26th, the third game in the wildly successful franchise.

What’s your opinion on the cancellation? Can you imagine a cinematic visualisation of Bioshock? Or do you believe that the universe belongs in the video game medium?

About the author