Universal Pictures has put the brakes on Bioshock, the Gore Verbinski-directed live-action adaptation of the best-selling Take-Two Interactive video game, Variety reported.
The picture was in preproduction, but the studio has halted that effort—and let some production staff go—as Universal and Verbinski figure out a way to make the film on a less costly budget.
The John Logan-scripted picture was gearing up to shoot in Los Angeles, but that changed when the budget rose to about $160 million. Universal and Verbinski are looking at alternatives, such as shooting in London, as a way to pare costs.
"We were asked by Universal to move the film outside the U.S. to take advantage of a tax credit," Verbinski said. "We are evaluating whether this is something we want to do. In the meantime, the film is in a holding pattern."
The story takes place in the underwater city Rapture, where a pilot crash-lands near a secret entrance and becomes involved in a power struggle.
Verbinski and sources at the studio say they are determined to make the pic. Indeed, Verbinski (who has also been directing the Paramount animated film Rango) bowed out of directing a fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean so he could direct Bioshock and produce under his Blind Wink banner.
All parties vow that Bioshock will not become another Halo, the would-be live-action adaptation of the Microsoft game that was canceled when Universal and Fox got cold feet over budget fears.