How Watchmen's box-office failure killed off that BioShock movie

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Mar 13, 2013, 9:54 AM EDT

It’s one of the biggest gaming franchises out there, but a film based on the hit BioShock series got bogged up in development hell a few years ago and never escaped. The reason? Apparently, we have Watchmen to blame.

Kevin Levine, creative director for the game, chatted with Eurogamer about the aborted film and explained how it went off the rails. For a while, Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Ring) was attached to make a dark, big-budget adaptation back in the late 2000s.

But then Zack Snyder’s R-rated Watchmen failed to be a box-office hit in 2009, so the studio backed off and pushed for a lower-budget or PG-13 take instead. Neither Verbinski, nor the game developer, was excited about it. So the plug was pulled:

"My theory is that Gore wanted to make a hard R film, then Watchmen came out, and it didn't do well for whatever reason. The studio then got cold feet about making an R rated $200 million film, and they said what if it was a $80 million film - and Gore didn't want to make a $80 million film... They brought another director in, and I didn't really see the match there - and 2K's one of these companies that puts a lot of creative trust in people. So they said if you want to kill it, kill it. And I killed it...

I couldn't really get past anybody that would spend the money that it would take to do it and keep an R rating," he said. "Alternately, 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!'... It's a movie that has to be really, really scary, but you also have to create a whole underwater world, so the pricetag is high. We just didn't have any takers on an R-rated movie with that pricetag."

Fans the world over are probably glad to hear Levine stuck to his guns on this one, because the only thing worse than not getting a movie is getting a butchered, watered-down version that hurts the awesomeness of the franchise.

But it’s hard to believe that no one was willing to take a chance on this one. It has huge name recognition, and a post-apocalyptic premise built for the big screen. Oh well, maybe some day.

Are you glad this one died in development hell, or do you wish it had at least survived in some capacity?