Forgotten Films: The Lost BioShock Adaptation

The BioShock movie was eight weeks from shooting before it was canned. Here's what could have been...

Forgotten Films is our new original video series debuting every Friday on the Den of Geek Facebook pageEach week, we take a deep dive into unmade scripts, lost flicks, and movies that deserve a second look. Watch a new installment below! 

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Forgotten Films: BioShock

When BioShock arrived for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in 2007, it took the video game world by storm. A mix of first-person shooting, role-playing, biopunk, Ayn Rand Objectivism, Orwellian dystopia, and a twist too good to spoil here, BioShock was a thoughtful and horrific look at a failed utopia turned madhouse. In an age when the FPS genre was dominated by franchises like Halo and Call of Duty, BioShock was an absolutely grown-up older brother, spewing philosophy at his scuffling little sibblings.

The Chicago Sun-Times said it best in a write-up about the game: “I never once thought anyone would be able to create an engaging and entertaining video game around the fiction and philosophy of Ayn Rand, but that is essentially what 2K Games has done … the rare, mature video game that succeeds in making you think while you play.”

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BioShock had such a successful launch that a film was quickly greenlit a year later. Take-Two Interactive, 2K and Irrational Games’ parent company, struck a deal with Universal to produce a film based on the game. Gore Verbinski (The Ring) was tapped to direct and John Logan (Skyfall) was to write the script.

A little over a year later, Verbinski dropped out of the project due to scheduling conflicts, as well as budgetary concerns. It was later revealed that Verbinski’s vision for the film demanded an R rating, something the studio wasn’t too keen on. While director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) was in talks to replace Verbinski, the film was finally canceled in 2013.

It was an unfortunate end to what could have been the first great video game movie. To add insult to injury, Verbinski recently revealed to IGN that the film was only EIGHT WEEKS away from filming when it was put on hold. 

“What’s interesting is when you get that close to shooting a movie, you’ve kind of made it. That’s the danger – you’ve kind of made it in your head. It’s one thing when your movie doesn’t happen […] but when you go literally eight weeks before you start shooting, it’s devastating,” said Verbinski.

Verbinski said Universal’s unwillingness to greenlight a big-budget R-rated film was the nail in the coffin for the BioShock movie. 

“Everyone wants to protect their IP – it started to smell a little funky. It started out great, but it’s not so much the owners of the underlying property as… that’s an expensive proposition, that’s a big tapestry – and R-rated. I think at that time there had been some R-rated, expensive movies that hadn’t worked, so yeah, it’s a shame,” said Verbinski. 

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While the BioShock movie’s fate was ultimately as bleak as Rapture’s, there’s perhaps new hope to be found in the success of R-rated blockbusters like Deadpool and Logan. Perhaps the BioShock movie could one day resurface from the depths below.

Check out our video on the BioShock movie below: