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Why Gore Verbinski Thinks There Will Never Be A BioShock Movie

Videogame adaptations have become a hot commodity lately. A-list stars are filling out the upcoming Borderlands cast, the Mortal Kombat trailer sent the internet into a collective freakout, and Netflix's The Witcher, starring Henry Cavill, is about to release a new season. Even properties that are only videogame adjacent, such as Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, have their own film and TV projects in the works, with big names like Chris Pine and the Russo Brothers attached.

One franchise that many gamers have imagined would be a strong candidate for a big screen glow-up is the BioShock series. BioShock lets players explore a retrofuturistic world that takes players to the underwater city of Rapture in the first two games, and then the airborne city of Columbia in the third. The series drew extensive praise and awards for its creative worldbuilding, captivating story, and mature exploration of complex themes. With so many intriguing components, the game's fanbase has long wondered if anyone would try to translate BioShock's world into a film.

Dedicated fans, however, might be aware that Universal Pictures did consider adapting BioShock back in 2009, only to step away from the project when its full scope became clear. According to the director Gore Verbinski, the costs and scale of making a BioShock movie may have doomed the project before it even started. Here is why Gore Verbinski thinks there will never be a BioShock movie.

Gore Verbinski thought BioShock would be an expensive R-rated movie

When the BioShock franchise was at the height of its popularity in the late 2000s, Irrational Games' creative director Ken Levine connected with Gore Verbinski and Universal Studios to develop a movie based on the game. Things seemed to be moving in a positive direction, with both Levine and Verbinski eager to honor the complex themes and dark tones of the original games, according to Eurogamer.

However, Verbinski and Levine's dedication to preserving the game's more mature elements, alongside the price of producing the film, proved to be an obstacle for Universal Studios. Verbinski said, "The brutally honest conversation I had saying, don't buy the rights, I just want you to be clear. This is a 200-million, R-rated [movie]. We were now about to start shooting a $200 million R-rated movie, and they chickened out" (via Collider).

The studio may have been even warier of making a large investment in an R-rated BioShock film due to the recent lackluster performance of Zack Snyder's Watchmen, released in 2009. Seeing Watchmen open to low box office figures and then struggle to recoup its costs might have made Universal Pictures rethink its willingness to greenlight a film that would only be accessible to older audiences. Verbinski said, "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."

Considering that nearly a decade has passed since the release of BioShock: Infinite, the likelihood of getting a movie made seems lower than ever — although the upcoming BioShock 4 might restart that conversation.