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.

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.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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145 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.......

AjenoMerveilles
AjenoMerveilles

Watchmen was utterly awful. Let us see. You have got one of the all time great graphic novels and indeed novels period which was dripping with social and political resonance of the period it was set in. So, do we update it to fit into a post 9/11 world? To make it as socially relevant to our generation and times as the original piece of writing was to the 80's? Nah. Let's just copy and paste, through in some wife fu and slow mo the shit out of it. Disgraceful garbage.

As for a Bioshock movie, there is too much to limit it to two hours. TV series would be grand. Expensive, but grand. But I trust Mr Levine with this. If it works, he'll push on with it. If it doesn't, he wouldn't bother and why should he? Sure, a lot of the time when I play a game I believe to be a true original piece of art (as I do the first Bioshock), I find myself wanting more people to know about it as it deserves a mass audience and appeal. But at what cost? Too much judging by quality of games to movies.

I will now go sit in a corner and pretend a Shadow of the Colossus movie isn't happening. Alcohol usually helps.

Apastron
Apastron

One down.  Now when will someone see sense and can the proposed Shadow of the Colossus movie?

rasputin177
rasputin177

What about about Gulliermo Del Toro? If you have seen some of his better movies doesn't it seem like a perfect match?

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

The POC movies weren't the best, but I did love the atmosphere of the series, shame they couldn't get that to work, at least it would have been a movie of atmosphere if the plot didn't work out. Hopefully something will happen to get a decent Bioshock movie.

mattcake
mattcake

I'd never, ever, ever go see a movie just because it has the name of a popular video game - quite the opposite in fact. Just go make a good movie and stop ruining the good reputation of games with crap films.

4-Legged-Shark
4-Legged-Shark

Contrary to what a lot of people are saying on here, odds are a Gore Verbinski-helmed big budget R rated Bioshock movie would be amazing. It's a real shame things never worked out. Gore Verbinski is an extremely talented director and his style would have been perfect for Bioshock. I'm sure the second director was some hack like Len Wiseman or Paul W.S. Anderson. 

rasputin177
rasputin177

Didn't R rated movies used to be blockbusters like back in the early 90s? What happend?

Johny_47
Johny_47

Shame the film's not being made(yet anyway) but good that he stuck with his gut feeling instead of doing it JUST for the riches.

TrueGB
TrueGB

Part of the genius of Bioshock was the atmosphere. If they couldn't nail that, it's just not worth doing.

Evan-0-Matic
Evan-0-Matic

Levine... A real man surrounded by a sell-out industry (movies and games these days). Thank you for making the hard, but correct choice. I too really enjoyed 'Watchmen'... Fantastic characters, plot, and script. Get Zach Synder to direct the Bioshock movie next time! That would be a 'hard R' rated film, and it would look fantastic.

Shilaundril
Shilaundril

Watchmen has to be one of the worst films I've ever seen. The only character that made it watchable was the guy with the mask. Glad this movie isn't gonna be made. Hollywood is full of terrible directors except for maybe Jackson, and the screenwriters... Just wow.

psycho75
psycho75

Good move Levine...Kojima should do the same with that Metal  Gear movie aberration. blergh. :(

seanmcloughlin
seanmcloughlin moderator

Last I heard about a Bisohock movie had wentworth miller's name attached to it, so no thanks

fanboy999
fanboy999

I'm sorry but Bioshock 1 & 2 were great as games. I really enjoyed the gaming experience. I don't see what a movie could possibly add to that. I'm not a big fan of making games into movies and movies into games. Doesn't usually work out...

H0rizon
H0rizon

I like his choice of action. Very responsible oriented and he thought ahead, good job!