When it was first announced that a BioShock movie was in the works, there was a lot of excitement. The game itself had an incredible setting, a memorable story, and a tone that made it seem like it could finally be that one movie that breaks through, and gives fans of the genre a movie based on a video game that doesn’t suck horribly. When it was announced that Gore Verbinski had left the fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean for BioShock (which may have been an exaggeration, or just fortuitous timing), everything seemed to be coming together. Then they began to talk budget.
Translating a video game into a Hollywood movie is problematic at best, but to truly do it justice, it requires a good budget. Money that Hollywood seems unwilling to part with. Budget was the headshot that killed a potentially epic Halo movie produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Neil Blomkamp (who went on to produce and direct another alien movie on a shoe string budget – District 9 – which cost $30 million to make and earned over $200 million), and budget turned a Castlevania movie from a potential summer blockbuster to a possible direct-to-DVD movie.
But things were cruising along for BioShock, and everything sounded good. Verbanski opted to produce rather than direct when it was decided that the film would not be shot in States. It was bad news to hear that Verbinski would not direct, but the decision to film meant that the movie was at least going ahead. Director Juan Carlo Fresnadillo was hired, and everything looked good. Until the budget began to be fleshed out.
The problem is that Verbinski seems to respect the property. The story is a dark and twisted look at philosophy, capitalism, and what happens to a group of people forced to augment and alter themselves to survive. It is not a family friendly tale, and Verbinski recognizes that. Hollywood is generally hesitant to shell out the blockbuster money that a movie like BioShock would need to an R-rated film that would limit the audience able to see it. Despite that, and despite the fact that most of us thought BioShock was dead, it appears that Verbanski isn’t ready to count out the series yet.
“We’re working trying to make it. The problem with BioShock was: R-rated movie, underwater, horror. It’s a really expensive R-rated movie,” Verbinski told IGN. “So we’re trying to figure out a way working with [director] Juan Carlos to get the budget down and still keep so it’s true to the core audience, you know? The thing is it has to be R, a hard R.”
“We don’t want to dumb it down, we don’t want to make it PG-13. We want to keep it really edgy, and it’s a huge bill,” Verbinski insisted.
It is good news that the movie is still alive, but as Fresnadillo has chosen to pursue the movie Intruders before returning to BioShock, the window seems to be closing.
“Right now, it’s really a budget thing and how to keep the integrity and keep it a Hollywood movie because it could balloon. It’s a lot. Our first budget was extraordinarily high and we’re working on it,” Verbinski said.
(Updated to correct a spelling error)