Of all the would-be game-to-movie adaptations that have been in the works over the years, the failure of the BioShock project is one of the ones that stings the most. Aside from being an amazing game, BioShock created a rich and detailed world that would have been amazing up on the big screen. Given that we have yet to see the first truly great video game movie, it’s no real surprise that the BioShock film eventually floundered. But what specifically caused the BioShock movie to crumble? Believe it or not, it might all come down to Zack Snyder’s Watchmen.
A few years back, BioShock looked like it might actually come together in an amazing way. Universal had given the project an impressive $200 million budget, and Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski was at the helm. But just as things were looking promising, Verbinski backed out of the project, and it all collapsed in on itself soon enough. Edge Online recently caught up Ken Levine, co-founder of Irrational Games, and he shared his insights about why BioShock fell apart:
There was a deal in place and it was actually in production at Universal, and Gore Verbinski was directing it. And what happened was — this is my theory — it’s a very big movie and Gore was very excited about it and he wanted to make a very dark, what he would call a ‘hard-rated’ horror film — an R-rated film with a lot of blood. Then Watchmen came out — and I really liked Watchmen — but it didn’t do well for whatever reason and the studio got cold feet about making an R-rated $200 million film.
Snyder’s Watchmen had an estimated budget of around $130 million according to IMDb Pro, and though it has gone on to earn $181 million worldwide, it still spooked Hollywood about the prospect of throwing that much money into a “grown-up” genre project like BioShock.
Although Universal brought in another director after Verbinski bailed, Levine didn’t think the new guy was a good fit for the project. When offered the chance to put the kibosh the project by BioShock publisher Take-Two Entertainment, Levine killed it. He tells Edge that he didn’t didn’t want the project to go forward “in a way I didn’t think was right.”
I can respect that decision, but I still hold out hope that BioShock will eventually make it to the big screen. But even if it doesn’t? I’ll just pop the game back in and return to the world of Rapture on my own time.