Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine has explained why he decided to kill the BioShock movie, which Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski was at one time set to direct with Universal Pictures.
Speaking at a BAFTA event in London last night, as reported by Edge, Levine said the commercial shortcomings of 2009's The Watchmen may have led to Universal executives getting cold feet about green-lighting the project.
"There was a deal in place and it was actually in production at Universal, and Gore Verbinski was directing it," Levine said. "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 The Watchmen came out--and I really liked The Watchmen--but it didn't do well for whatever reason, and the studio got cold feet about making an R-rated $200 million film."
Levine said Verbinski was not interested in making a BioShock movie with a reduced budget, believed to be somewhere around $80 million, and so he left.
"And so they brought another director in, and I didn't really see the match there. Take-Two is one of those companies that gives a lot of trust to their creative people, and so they said to me, 'If you want to kill it Ken, kill it.' And I killed it."
Levine did not name this new director outright, though it was previously revealed that Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later, Intact) was brought on following Verbinski's departure. Fresnadillo dropped out a year ago this month.
"Which was weird, having been a screenwriter going around begging to rewrite any script to being in a position where you're killing a movie that you worked so much on," Levine said of canceling the movie. "It was saying, 'You know what? I don't need to compromise.' I had the [BioShock] world, and I didn't what to see it done in a way I didn't think was right."
The BioShock film was first announced in 2008, with Verbinski attached to direct. Production was halted the following year due to concerns over the project's ballooning $160 million budget. Verbinski clarified the film's fate last year, revealing that the BioShock movie's budget would only be approved for a PG-13 take on the material, a compromise he felt was unacceptable.