Video games Like BioShock and Halo just don’t get any breaks sometimes.

These video game-based movies either make it to the big screen and we all wish they had a bigger budget or they drift in planning limbo even though there’s a rabid fanbase waiting patiently.  But sometimes the fanbase just isn’t enough to inspire the studios.

Production Halted, Processes Reviewed

In this case, BioShock was on the path to being made into what many would consider to be a quality effort.  Universal had acquired the rights in a multi-million dollar deal banked against gross points with the game maker and director Gore Verbinski (The Ring, Pirates Of The Caribbean series) was set to helm the job.  It definitely looked promising… until Friday, April 24th, when Universal Pictures saw the estimated price tag and pulled the funding plug on pre-production of the project. They let staff from the project go while they work with Verbinski to try and figure out how to approach the project from a more frugal perspective.

As it stood, the live-action version of BioShock was looking to cost $160 million and I’m thinking that Universal doesn’t have the faith that the movie at that cost is a financially sound maneuver.  Oddly, this judgment call is being compared to Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood.  That project went through similar production cost hurdles but is now on track after finding cost cuts to allow the filming to recommence.

One idea to save bucks on the BioShock production was to move the shoot location from the Los Angeles, CA area to London.  Though initially this doesn’t seem cheaper, the tax incentives (cuts) for shooting in London are significant enough to make it a viable idea.  Too bad for L.A. and California.

Does This Become Another Halo Project?

Regardless, Verbinski and Universal need to figure out how to cut corners and sources say this is not going to become another Halo.  They claim that they do intend to make a movie of the bestselling Take-Two Interactive video game.

If you recall, Universal and Fox (There goes that word again) had backed out of the Halo project due to cost concerns.  We wrote about a spec script and conecept art for Halo that Stuart Beattie (Gears of War, G.I. Joe) had put together,  but that came about from his own frustration with any lack of development on the project.

So What Will Gore Verbinski Do Now?

I have to wonder if Verbinski turning down the next Pirates of The Caribbean 4 movie hurt his options to jump back on that project?  As far as I can tell, I haven’t seen or heard of a new director being attached to the project yet.  Maybe he can hop back on board?  Or will there now be time for the Heavy Metal movie remake of the 1981 hit that Verbinksi is noted being attached to?

Another project that Verbinski is reported to be producing is a remake of the 2006 movie, The Host (Korean title: Gwoemul) with commercial director Fredrik Bond (Nike, Adidas) and written (Wouldn’t that be rewritten?) by Mark Poirier (Smart People).  The who?  The Host is a film that did very well in S. Korean theaters.  It is about a giant squid like creature who kidnaps (For lack of a better term) a little girl and her family bands together to rescue her.  Hey, it did a record breaking theatrical run in S. Korea.  Don’t ask me.  It’s a family pulling-together theme.

Verbinski is also attached to another project that is about the fantasy role-playing world, and oddly, it’s based on a Wall Street Journal article.  (Hmm.  I better start writing better articles if that’s the case!)

The WSJ article is about a man who spends as many as 20 hours a day on his computer as he leads a fantasy life via his avatar that is a successful, musclebound entrepreneur. In reality, he is a diabetic, chain-smoking 53-year-old.  When they said 20 hours a day, I thought for a fleeting moment they were talking about an entertainment editorial writer.

After All Is Said And Done

Despite the potential marketability of video games, the potential profit margin keeps studios hesitant.  I get it, yet the fans of the franchises can get pretty hopeful when they hear news of movies and then get let down as the reality of the business sets in, well, it sucks for us.

As far as Gore Verbinski goes, it looks like no matter the outcome here,  he’s got plenty on his plate to keep him going.

Let’s hope they keep to the intent, and get this project back on track.  I don’t see how they won’t with Universal having dropping a chunk of change on the rights already.

Source:  Variety (via Filmonic)