R-Rated BioShock Movie Was Very Close To Happening, Ex-Director Says

"I wanted to keep it R-rated; I felt like that would be appropriate, and it's an expensive movie."


Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski was at one point attached to direct a BioShock movie. For a number of reasons, the film never happened. Now, the director has revealed that his version of the movie was canceled just eight weeks before it was set to start production.

In a Reddit AMA this week promoting his new movie, A Cure For Wellness, Verbinski revealed that and spoke about why his version of BioShock movie was canceled.

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"I wanted to keep it R-rated; I felt like that would be appropriate, and it's an expensive movie," he said (via GamesRadar). "It's a massive world we're creating and it's not a world we can simply go to locations to shoot. [For] A Cure For Wellness, we were able to really utilize a variety of location to create the world. Bioshock wouldn't work like that; we'd be building an entire underworld universe.

"So I think the combination of the price tag and the rating, [film company Universal] just didn't feel comfortable ultimately," he explained, repeating what he said years ago.

Verbinski went on to say in the AMA that, at the time, there were other R-rated movies that did not perform well. This might have made Universal even more wary about greenlighting the BioShock film.

Though the BioShock movie is showing no signs of starting again, Verbinski said "things have changed" as it relates to successful R-rated movies, so "maybe there will be another chance." Another director might have to step in, as Verbinski said it would be emotionally difficult for him to return.

"It's very difficult when you're eight weeks away from shooting a movie you really can see in your head and you've almost filmed the entire thing," he said. "So emotionally you're right at that transition from architect to becoming a contractor and that will be a difficult place to get back to."

In 2011, Verbinski said the BioShock movie's budget would only be approved for a PG-13 take on the material, a compromise he felt was unacceptable. After Verbinski dropped out, a new director, Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later, Intact), was brought on, but he eventually exited the project too.

BioShock creator Ken Levine said in 2013 that BioShock rights-owner Take-Two gave him creative control over the movie. It was his decision alone to kill the second iteration of the film; he did so because he "didn't see a match" with the new director, presumably a reference to Fresnadillo.

The BioShock series was created by Irrational Games, a Boston-based studio that effectively closed in 2014. Development on the series is now headed up by 2K Marin in California. The latest installment in the series was BioShock: The Collection, a compilation pack that features updated versions of BioShock, BioShock 2, and BioShock Infinite.

No new entries in the series have been announced. Last year, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said BioShock has not reached its creative or commercial peak yet, so that sounds like more games will be released eventually.

As for Levine, he is working on a "highly creative and innovative" game for Take-Two that has yet to be announced.

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Avatar image for Stedmister

One of these days a game movie will break the mould, just as superhero movies have done, AC had promise, the cinematography and visuals were well done IMO, everything else seemed to lack, not a bad movie, yet still not a good one, but nicely done. to much of that eagle, we get it, use it once or twice and that it.

Avatar image for Wraith3

I'm not sure what was in Bioshock that you couldn't put in a PG13 movie.

Avatar image for Greyfox-101

When will studio execs finally realize that it's not about what the movie is rated...it's about whether the quality of the writing, direction, editing, etc. is good.

The perfect example of this is Deadpool. People didn't believe in R-rated comic book movies, but then Deadpool came along and raked in cash. What was the response? Fox considering more R-rated comic book movies. Again, people didn't see the R-rating on Deadpool and flock to the theaters. They flocked to the theaters because it was a good movie–period.

Civil War was a smash hit, but that was PG-13. The arbitrary MPAA doesn't matter, but the quality of the film does.

Avatar image for darthrevenx

The time will never be right for game adaptations......

games are too interactive, inspired by films in many cases so any adaptation will fail cus it's a copy of a copy, very watered down.....

I love the first Bioshock but I'd never go see a movie based on it.....

I think one way game adaptations could work is animation, Mass Effect Paragon Lost showed that you could do the games justice and even there some stuff was changed from the games but I think if someone went Pixar level and the dev's gave the filmmakers the assets to the games and the production went and did it's own thing and still tied into the games a little it could work.....

like take Mass Effect, if someone went all CGI and had all the assets from the games yet still created their own stuff for new characters and hired some of the same voice talent from the games we'd see a great Mass Effect movie.....the one issue I had with Paragon Lost is Hacket and Anderson weren't voiced by Lance Henrickson and Kieth David......but otherwise it was excellent.....

Avatar image for Greyfox-101

@darthrevenx: The time will be right as soon as people realize what makes a game good and what makes a movie good.

To your point, games are an interactive medium, while films are passive. I think the main problem with video game adaptations is they try too hard to please fans and what they do in the games.

When you take a step back however, for most games what is it that makes them memorable? It comes down to the aesthetics and gameplay.

Films can't really capture the gameplay though, but they can capture the aesthetics. Titanfall plays incredibly similar to a litany of other FPS games out there, but it's the aesthetic of these space pilots driving these Titans and them falling out of the sky that's iconic.

Look at the recent Assassin's Creed movie. Why was that underwhelming? In my opinion it was because they tried to instill too much of what was in the game into the movie. I think it's a rare exception when a game has a legitimate story that isn't merely a vessel for more gameplay. In Assassin's Creed's case, the story never made a ton of sense to me and was frankly poorly thought out in the games (especially later entries), so why bring that to the passive big screen?

What's iconic for Assassin's Creed isn't the BS animus or weird modern day + historical settings. It's purely the historical settings with the idea of two warring factions. The iconic aspect of AC isn't Desmond running around some sterile office settings, rather you think of some hooded assassin sitting on top of a tower during the Renaissance in Italy.

I think if you take the window-dressing of a lot of these games and have a good story that works within that you'll be much more successful.

As a film to film example, 10 Cloverfield Lane started as a simple underground thriller. JJ Abrams helped craft it to the alien-verse of the 'Cloverfield' brand.

I think if you take a decent script, adapt it to one of the video settings, the results would be far superior.