You know how it is with film adaptions of video games. It seems that they’re sadly incapable of being good, and when there are promising projects in the works like Halo or Metal Gear Solid, they are either dropped or linger in limbo, respectively. One such example is the BioShock movie, which went through all the emotions from 2008 to 2013 with two directors quitting, concerns about budget constraints, and conflicts between the creators and corporate about securing an R-rating. One of those film directors is Gore Verbinski, who has a filmography boasting such hits as The Ring and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. He’s returning after 2013’s disappointing Lone Ranger with the disturbingly psychological horror film A Cure for Wellness. In celebration of its release this weekend, he recently conducted a Reddit AMA taking anyone’s questions about the film and his life’s work, so there was no doubt his involvement on Rapture’s adaption to the big screen would be broached, and it seems he was open to discussing it.
Reddit user “jgcarugati” asked the fateful question, and Verbinski obliged by confirming it was actually eight weeks out from shooting when “the plug was pulled.” Much of the trouble surrounding it relates to the aforementioned issues that arose during pre-production. He clarifies Bioshock‘s unique place in contrast to his latest project.
It’s a massive world we’re creating and it’s not a world we can simply go to locations to shoot. ‘A Cure For Wellness’, we were able to really utilize a variety of location to create the world. ‘Bioshock’ it 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, universal just didn’t feel comfortable ultimately. At that time also there were some R rated, expensive R rated movies that were not working. So I think things have changed and maybe there will be another chance, but 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, 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.
With so many doubting minds funding the nascent project during a period where these types of films didn’t often succeed, it’s no wonder why Ken Levine stepped in to completely shut it down to avoid compromising the mature, intended vision behind it. Besides the AMA, Moviefone writer Drew Taylor also managed to press Verbinski on the movie, since he noticed how similar set pieces in A Cure for Wellness are to BioShock‘s atmosphere. The director brushes aside these comparisons.
I think most people are reacting to the big isolation tank [in the trailer]. I wanted to build something that really felt real. This is a strange meta-science that is happening here. This place is old but it’s also operating in a kind of dream state. I needed the scale and I needed the pressure of all of this water and a place to put a camera and move around. So I went for it. And people said, ‘Oh, that looks really steampunk’ or whatever. But the narrative is so different from ‘Bioshock.’ We’re taking the tranquility and calm and purification of a wellness center and corrupting that, which is something else entirely.
He goes on to echo Levine’s desires to go all-in with the film, saying that there were “no half-measures” at the beginning. Even though he was hopeful in the AMA about the future of high-budget, R-rated films, his expectations of seeing a BioShock adaptation are low unless financiers are willing to take a leap of faith. So, it looks like the prospects of another ambitious video game movie adaption have been laid to rest, but if Universal Studios sees the value in raising it from the depths of the sea, perhaps it will surface anew one day.
What do you make of the BioShock movie? Who do you think would be most suited to direct it? What other video game film adaptations are you hoping will see the light of day? Share your thoughts in the comments below.