Bioshock, the arguably best video game about beating up homeless people for drug money in an Ayn Randian hellscape, nearly got a movie adaptation from A Cure for Wellness director Gore Verbinski, whose oeuvre has been aptly described as the “Venn diagram overlap between ‘box office success’ and ‘weird movie’.” That sounds like a perfect match, although there are complications to adapting Bioshock, and the project — announced in 2008 — fell apart after years of development.
Now Verbinski has revealed the project was shut down only eight weeks (!) before shooting, and he explains why, in a Reddit AMA.
“I wanted to keep it R rated, I felt like that would be appropriate, and it’s an expensive movie. 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.”
So how far was Verbinski trying to push his R-rated Bioshock adaptation? A hint comes from a 2011 interview with Coming Soon, where he said, “I wasn’t really interested in pursuing a PG-13 version. Because the R rating is inherent. Little Sisters and injections and the whole thing. I just wanted to really, really make it a movie where, four days later, you’re still shivering and going, Jesus Christ!”
Would you kindly stop giving me nightmares, Verbinski?