The last time we reported on the video game adaptation, Bioshock, the movie was put on hold because of (you guessed it) money troubles. Universal Pictures took a look at the $160 million dollar budget, and decided to pull the plug in the pre-production stages, letting staff go (for that time being) until they and the then-director Gore Verbinski could figure out a way to do the movie (basically) without it costing as much.
And it looks like they’ve done just that, as well as finding a replacement director for Verbinski in the form of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who you’ll probably know best for co-writing and directing 28 Weeks Later. He is in talks to direct from a script written by John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai).
So how have Universal and Verbinski revamped their budget plan to make Bioshock for less? Well, they’re going to film outside the U.S. in order to take advantage of the tax credits and favorable exchange rates. The reason Universal went after another director (who’s in talks to helm – i.e. not officially signed on yet) is that Verbinski can’t commit to the overseas shoot, since he’s directing the animated film Rango, with his Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp.
This is kind of surprising news, and something that’s bound to be disappointing news for Verbinski, who a few months ago turned down directing Pirates 4 in order to focus on Bioshock. Now it appears he’ll just be producing, which is still a big commitment, but definitely not the one he had in mind originally.
When pre-production was halted on Bioshock in late-April this year, the studio vowed that it wouldn’t turn into another on-off-on-off Halo situation; with them in negotiations with a new director, as well as trying to come up with a revised budget, it certainly shows they’re determined to get it made. As stated, Fresnadillo still isn’t officially signed onto direct Bioshock – Bioshock developers, Take-Two Games, must give him the thumbs up, since they have “director approval” rights. Fresnadillo’s producing partner, Enrique Lopez Lavigne, is also in talks to produce the movie.
I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who are glad to see Verbinski not being the one to bring Bioshock to cinematic life. I’m not one of those people – as much of a mess as the Pirates sequels were, I actually think he has exhibited real talent as a filmmaker with the American remake of The Ring and the interesting dramedy The Weather Man, to name a couple.
However, I also like Fresnadillo. Not only did he breath some frantic, frenzied life into 28 Weeks Later, but he directed a wicked little 2001 thriller/drama called Intacto that you should really check out if you get the chance. Fresnadillo would do a great job bringing Bioshock to the big-screen.
Having said that, it’s not hard to notice the studio switching from an established big-budget filmmaker like Verbinski (who delivered three mammoth, money-making hits with Pirates of the Caribbean), to a much less experienced Fresnadillo, who has only really had one semi-hit (in the U.S. market) with 28 Weeks Later. I’m not slamming Fresnadillo – he’s clearly a talented director – but it seems a bit odd and surprising that Universal would go for someone with little-to-no-experience for this high-profile project.
What do you think of the possible new director of the Bioshock movie? Do you think he’s a good fit or should they go with someone who’s got more experience?
Bioshock is currently in the development stages and doesn’t have a scheduled release date as of yet.