Universal "got cold feet" about such a budget for a film and so wanted it around $80 million. Verbinski wanted his original vision, and so directorship changed and Ken Levine "killed it."
This is all according to the creator of BioShock himself. He attributes 2K Games as being very trusting when it comes to its creative workforce and let him have final say.
"There was a deal in place, and it was in production at Universal - Gore Verbinski was directing it,” said Levine in an interview at the BAFTAs. “My theory is that Gore wanted to make a hard ‘R’ film - which is like an age 17/18-plus, where you can have blood and naked girls. Well, I don’t think he wanted naked girls. But he wanted a lot of blood.”
“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,” he continued, “and I didn’t really see the match there. 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.”
It seems the video game and movie community owes Ken Levine a huge thank you. Why not do just that by snapping up Irrational's BioShock Infinite when it releases on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC March 26th.