Why Ken Levine cancelled the Bioshock movie

Ken Levine stopped a Bioshock movie being made after compromises over the budget and a change in director caused Levine to think twice about the project.

Speaking at a BAFTA event in London last night, Levine explained that the Bioshock movie had started out as a big-budget $200 million project with Gore Verbinski at the helm.

“There was a deal in place and it was actually in production at Universal, and Gore Verbinski was directing it,” said Levine. “And what happened was – this is my theory – it’s a very big movie and Gore was very excited about it and he wanted to make a very dark, what he would call a ‘hard-rated’ horror film – an R rated film with a lot of blood. Then The Watchmen came out – and I really liked The Watchmen – but it didn’t do well for whatever reason and the studio got cold feet about making an R rated $200 million film.

“So they said, ‘Gore, what about it if it was an $80 million film?’ and enough time had gone by where Gore didn’t want to make an $80 million dollar film. 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.

“Which was weird, having been a screenwriter going around begging to re-write any script to being in a position where you’re killing a movie that you worked so much on. It was saying, “You know what? I don’t need to compromise’. I had the [Bioshock] world, and I didn’t what to see it done in a way I didn’t think was right.”

Levine was speaking at the BAFTA event about his career in games to date and outlining his vision for Bioshock Infinite. You can read our first impressions of that title and our review of the original Bioshock through the links.

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