BioShock Movie Director Talks About Why The Film Was Canceled

Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski says the film's big budget and R rating led to its demise.


Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski has spoken about the cancelation of his BioShock movie that was in the works a long time ago. Speaking to Collider, Verbinski said he was in trouble from the very beginning, as he pitched the movie as a R-rated film that needed a gigantic budget. The executives at Universal apparently balked.

"It was strange, my first meeting at Universal on BioShock was sitting in a room and saying, 'Hey guys, this is a $200 million R-rated movie.' And it was silent. I remember my agent going, 'Why did you say that?' I'm like, because it is," he said. "Why just even trying to kill a movie you haven't even started? That's before getting a scripted before anything. I'm just I just want to be clear. And I think everybody at the studio was like,'Well, yeah, okay, maybe. Wow, no. It's big, we know.'"

According to Verbinski, Universal "chickened out" and didn't agree to Verbinski's idea to make an R-rated movie with a huge budget. Verbinski said Universal might have been wary to greenlight BioShock because 2009's Watchmen had just released and it struggled at the box office as an R-rated film with a big budget.

"So, there was a little bit of, these movies need to be PG-13. If they cost that much, they need to be PG-13," he said.

Overall, Verbinski said it was a "glorious waste of time" working on the BioShock movie. It's too bad, he said, because BioShock has a great story. He also teased that he was thinking about an idea that would have given viewers the opportunity to see both endings.

"I think that's one of the few video game narratives that actually has a great story. It's Oedipus. It's got a great narrative flow. It's got a sort of untrustworthy narrator," Verbinski said. "Obviously, the big plane crash was a huge set piece, the entry into that world. There was a lot of story boarding, a lot of pre-vis. There was playing with how to have both endings. I don't know if you're familiar with the game but dissecting that feint to the happy ending. And then, still having the unleashed version of the ending. We were trying to achieve that, which was really exciting. Where if you watch the movie, you could get both. The set piece thing to me... I don't like generic action if there's not story through line."

BioShock creator Ken Levine also commented on the cancellation of the BioShock movie, saying in 2017 that it was Watchmen's struggles that led to its demise. He said Universal got "cold feet" after seeing Watchmen struggle at the box office with its big budget.

Levine went on to say that Verbinski was not interested in making a BioShock movie with a reduced budget or a PG-13 rating, 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.

The status of the BioShock movie today is unknown.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 38 comments about this story