Over the weekend, Variety delivered some unwelcome news to those looking forward to the BioShock film. According to the Hollywood trade, Universal Pictures has ordered work stopped on the project, announced last May. Apparently the sticking point was the film's ballooning $160 million budget, which is now being revisited by Universal and director Gore Verbinski (The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, The Mexican).
"We were asked by Universal to move the film outside the US to take advantage of a tax credit," Verbinski told Variety. "We are evaluating whether this is something we want to do. In the meantime, the film is in a holding pattern." London is apparently a leading candidate for the production's new location.
Written by John Logan (Gladiator, Star Trek: Nemesis), the big-screen BioShock was initially planned for release alongside a third BioShock game. However, with BioShock 2 not due out until later this year, the movie's release was brought forward to summer 2010--a move that forced Verbinski to pass on directing a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean.
The fact that Verbinski turned down such a lucrative gig to direct BioShock is a good indicator of his commitment to the project. Both the director and Universal reps told Variety that the work stoppage--and a few subsequent crew-member layoffs--do not mean the film is canceled, but merely delayed. Specifically, they promised it would not suffer the same fate as the Halo film, which is now on indefinite hold following similar budget concerns.
To learn more about Verbinski's thoughts on games and film, check out his keynote address from the 2008 D.I.C.E. Summit.