Netflix Is Making a New ‘BioShock’ Movie — Why Was the Original Gore Verbinski Version Canceled?

BioShock is heading to the big screen — well, the Netflix big screen. Netflix has announced plans to turn the critically-acclaimed BioShock video game franchise into a movie. However, as longtime fans of the series may recall, this won’t be the first attempt at an adaptation. Back in the early 2010s, director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango) signed on to lead a BioShock film, but it was canceled just a few years later. Here’s why.

Gore Verbinski, who was set to direct a BioShock movie in 2010. Netflix recently announced a new BioShock movie project.
Gore Verbinski | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Netflix announced a new ‘BioShock’ movie with Take-Two Interactive

On Feb. 15, Netflix teased via social media (seen below) that a BioShock movie is officially in the works. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming service will work alongside Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of BioShock developer 2K Games, to create the adaptation. However, no writers or filmmakers have signed on yet.

Because the movie is in such early stages, it’s unclear what BioShock’s plot will include. The first game, which came out in 2007, takes place in an underwater city known as Rapture, where mutated humans run rampant during a civil war. Players take on the role of Jack, who must escape Rapture after his airplane crashes into the Atlantic Ocean and lands in the underwater city.

BioShock went on to receive two sequels, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite. The series has become one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, per GameSpot. 2K Games has confirmed that BioShock 4 is currently in development.

Gore Verbinski was set to direct a ‘BioShock’ movie, but it fell through due to budget and rating concerns

Just one year after BioShock’s initial release, Take-Two Interactive confirmed that it would make a movie adaptation with Universal Studios. Gore Verbinski signed on to direct, while John Logan was tapped as a writer. However, the project quickly ran into budget issues, as well as a problem with the BioShock movie’s R rating.

Still, BioShock entered pre-production and held cast auditions — Andrew Garfield, Eddie Redmayne, and Jamie Dornan all auditioned for the movie — but continued to face budget problems. It was officially canceled by 2013.

Verbinski looked back on the project during an interview with Collider in 2021. According to the director, the $200 million budget for a hard-R movie was too much. He said:

When the movie was shut down, it was literally the conversation that I had. 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. I think, Watchmen had just come out right before that or something. 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.

Gore Verbinski shared his vision for the adaptation

Despite the BioShock movie mainly being doomed from the start, Verbinski knew exactly how he wanted to approach the story. He told Collider that he wanted it to open with a plane crash, just like the first game. Additionally, he wanted to incorporate the game’s multiple endings, which players receive based on the choices they make.

All in all, Verbinksi thought BioShock had great potential for an engaging film.

“I think that’s one of the few video game narratives that actually has a great story. It’s Oedipus,” he said. “It’s got a great narrative flow, a sort of untrustworthy narrator … the dramaturgical aspect of the story.”

At this time, it’s unclear if Gore Verbinski will have any involvement in Netflix’s BioShock movie. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for more updates.

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