Levine explains why he killed BioShock movie

Irrational Games boss Ken Levine says after Gore Verbinski left the project, he "didn't really see the match" with the new director.

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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.

The BioShock series continues this month with the release of BioShock Infinite. For more, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Discussion

148 comments
chunkowookie
chunkowookie

Well that's too bad. But it does seem like killing it was the right thing to do. I wouldn't want to see a bioshock movie that Levine felt was compromised in any way. And an "R-rated horror movie with a lot of blood" sounds like exactly what would have been an awesome bioshock film.

June-GS
June-GS

Activision and EA, or for that matter, movie studios, learn from Take-Two. Leave your creators alone. I know it's scary for you at first, but in the long run, people will support you more for it. Sometimes, there are unlucky surprises like The Watchmen, which was actually critically-acclaimed. You can't win 'em all, as they say, right? But over-all, if people see you're taking risks by being true, people will come.

Hey_Jay
Hey_Jay

What's this? Integrity still exists? I am shocked-ed-ed.

wavelength121
wavelength121

Good call. Videogames make for terrible movies. Always have, always will.

ZeroX91
ZeroX91

I'm more disappointed about the vita game gettin' scrapped.

quinnd6
quinnd6

It's a shame it could have been a good film. Hollywood execs are fools for screwing it up like that. They only care about the money and not making a good film.      That's why we see the same old formulaic crap all the time. The film industry in America is crap. It's not about making good films anymore. It seems there's no originality or creativity allowed.  It's just big budget action movies with no plot, predictable, crap horror films, excrutatingly bad rom coms, terrible unfunny comedies, boring dramas,  awful musicals. You do get a couple of good films but there's just a huge amount of crap movies out there. Why do they allow such a huge amount of crap movies to be made. A pg-13 Bioshock movie would have been crap and never have lived up to the game. He was right to cancel it.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

I'm impressed to see Levine had that kind of influence, but not at all surprised he called it off. Bravo, Ken!

I'm slightly stunned at the notion that as a film's budget goes up, its age-rating has to come down in order to leave it accessible to enough punters to offset the cost. I know it makes sense from a business perspective, but I can't help think that maybe some of these studios need to do some of the growing up the games industry is told to do by others.

poderx
poderx

At last!!!! Some game developer stopping a posible sucking movie "just because it´s going to suck"!!!!! YEAHHH=) there´s still hope in this world

richman123
richman123

really? this is why we have stupid ass movies out that no one has ever heard of..Dark skies, Escape from Planet Earth, Safe Haven, Side Effects, Snitch, and Silver Linings Playbook.....DAFUQ?

Taegre
Taegre

Go R or go home!

Fembot_Eulogy
Fembot_Eulogy

Most Game Movies don't do so well anyway... (Yet somehow RE movies are still being made, and they are getting worse with every entry).

I think this movie had massive potential to get a following outside the gaming community. I would still like to see a movie for Bioshock one day. Who knows, maybe Mr. Levine will get his wish and the budget, and director will return and he can create something amazing.

SythisTaru
SythisTaru

R isn't really needed for this game. It doesn't even feel like an M game most of the time.

Lord_OfThe_Sith
Lord_OfThe_Sith

Ubisoft is paying less than 200 million for something that should be incredible.  If Ken wants the movie so bad why doesn't he and Take 2 put up some of the money and dictate IP and rating.  Bioshock would be the best video game inspired film ever made if it was given the chance.  I would see it in the theater and buy the Bluray as I am sure many others would.  I would just hope we didn't end up with the same kind of end as we got with DOOM.  Maybe Tim Burton would direct Sweeney Todd was very dark, well done and rated R.

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

It's rare to see a high budget R film. It's always a risk for the studios, which is unfortunate.
I admire Levine for making the call.

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

Why would you need a R-rated movie? If it has a good story, then it will sell itself.

Jd1680a
Jd1680a

Why not put out a PG-13 movie in the theater but have an unrated version when it comes out on blu-ray and DVD?

675T
675T

TDK was PG-13, so was TDKR; I don't think a PG-13 movie couldn't be dark and gritty!

buzznugget
buzznugget

"Would you kindly let us make a $200 million R-rated movie?"

That might have worked.

leimonides
leimonides

Wow,.it seams like this movie would had been quite rare; it would actually get serious attention to the source material. Real, honest respect was going into this project; that is unheard of for this type of adaptation. I don't know the series, but while a good choice, it does seam disappointing of a result.

deliman
deliman

Props to Ken Levine and Take Two for sticking to their original creative vision.

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

let this one sink in for a minute then acknowledge the pure genius of it....

Bioshock directed by Quinton Terrentino.  i know i know, why didn't you think of it first....

Saketume
Saketume

If it was the 28 weeks later director then he certainly did the right thing in killing the project.

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

very disappointed and mixed feelings on it.  i totally respect levine's rights here and his delicate  handling of his IP but I would have enjoyed watching damn near any treatment of the material, well as long as it didn't end up another resident evil piece of chit.


also, to all you @ssholes out there that did NOT watch Watchmen, one of the greatest movies of that year, thanks for killing THIS adaptation with your narrow minded view on movies.  Watchmen was an amazing flick.  nothing short of fantastic

vadagar1
vadagar1

this is good, sad but its the right move...

Fursnake
Fursnake

This just in! Ken Levine has been has been arrested and charged with one count of murder in the first degree. Also arrested were all of Take Two for conspiracy to commit murder.

Also, am I alone in thinking that this movie would perhaps work if it was a prequel of sorts that showed the rise and fall of Rapture leading up to the games?

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I'm glad Ken had the balls to kill it. No need to release product that you don't have faith in.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

A Mass Effect movie still has the potential to be good, and could feasibly get a $200 million+ budget since the material is already fairly PG-13 rated.

DETfaninATL
DETfaninATL

It's a very good call to kill this movie. While I always thought Bioshock was absolutely perfect to be made into a movie, it's no secret that movies don't make good videogames, and videogames don't make for good movies. And it's just that simple. And, no, 'Tomb Raider' was NOT a good movie.......

twisted_outlaw
twisted_outlaw

@June-GS That's why take-two's games are usually a helluva lot better than any generic crap EA or Activision tries to put out. Only reason they continue to have so much of the market is bc they continusouly re-release games with updates. never anything new or refreshing from them if you already played their other games.

twisted_outlaw
twisted_outlaw

@wavelength121 They make for terrible movies bc they are always low-budget. Bioshock was set to have a blockbuster budget, but as you can see, they got nervous, cut the budget in half, lost a director, and told them to make it pg-13. lol, and that would have went from best video game movie ever made, to absolute worst. Resident Evil wasn't bad. The first one.

Lord_OfThe_Sith
Lord_OfThe_Sith

@SythisTaru Due to the drug use and the glorification of it in the US the movie would HAVE to have an R rating.  Then when you add the violence, sexuality and gore, you need an R.  If they don't make this movie they are idiots, the first look at the bouncer when you first arrive would be breathtaking.

Celiria_Rose
Celiria_Rose

@PodXCOM because they need the R rating to pull off the atmosphere of the story

Owner34
Owner34

@Jd1680a why not have microwaved dinners at fancy restaurants? 

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

@Fursnake you are right...i think prequel would be more interesting that the actual game time frame

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

@DETfaninATL you suck...stop speaking in absolutes.  games don't always make good movies but it can and does happen

June-GS
June-GS

@twisted_outlaw Yeah, sometimes they, or rather, their creators would come up with something genuinely good like the original Dead Space or even the original Modern Warfare, respectively--they were both critically-acclaimed too. But then, yeah, "business" would happen. That's what. I guess our point is, publishers, if you're gonna do business, at least let your creators do it for you. By staying true to your creators and customers--us, you'll still get our business anyway. Maybe even our loyalty. So everybody wins in the end. And even your souls remain intact.

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

@Epicurus-Reborn @philMcCrevis Ahhh!  lol your breaking my heart man i loved that movie in so many ways.  what did you not like about it?  and don't say the blue guys schlong!  lol heard that from too many friends already

DETfaninATL
DETfaninATL

Yeah - You ever hear of books or comic books? Neither of those properties you mentioned were videogames before they were anything else and thus not applicable to the point I'm making. Thanks for playing though!

DETfaninATL
DETfaninATL

OK there Mr. Pleasant. Way to come in and be nasty to someone, make a vague statement and then offer no examples of what you're trying to illustrate. You have FAILed. Completely.

leimonides
leimonides

@philMcCrevis @Epicurus-Reborn seriously, that was an issue blocking them from enjoying the film? Wow........that's just.......sad.

Epicurus-Reborn
Epicurus-Reborn

@philMcCrevis @Epicurus-Reborn I coulda swore i replied to this already. Any way, I just dont like the directing. Its very stylish and edgy and action oriented. Which would be cool for an action movie i guess. But watchmen has this incredibly dark and deep story, and i think the director just wanted an excuse to make something with lots of violence and sex. I love the story, i just hate the directing. I wish the movie took itself more seriously. Because really.... amazing story/characters. But I'll admit, as far as style goes that movie is very visually appealing. 

DETfaninATL
DETfaninATL

Ooooookayyyyyyy.......... You obviously aren't capable of following basic logic. So let's break it down for you : You quoted the statement I made so no need to rehash it. You then cited 2 examples you thought were applicable. I then mentioned that both of the properties you cited were NOT applicable as they were not videogames before they were movies OR vice versa - they were either books or comic books. The point I was making is that properties that are videogames first (Mortal Kombat, Mario Bros., Tomb Raider, etc.) never make for good movies. And videogames that are movies first (IE, all the tie-in videogames that are produced as an attempt to further cash-in on a movie coming out) are never good videogames - only 'decent' at best (X-Men Origins : WOLVERINE for example, since that's about the best I can think of off-hand). So do you get it now?

petez34
petez34

@DETfaninATL "movies don't make good videogames, and videogames don't make for good movies. And it's just that simple." I was responding to this! When did you mention comic books? pfff you argue like an irrational tweenie. thanks for playing though.