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Ken Levine personally killed off the BioShock film - here's why

"I don't need to compromise - how many times in life do you not need to compromise?"

The BioShock film that was once in production at Universal is definitely dead - and Irrational's Ken Levine has explained why he personally cancelled the project.

First announced in 2008, the film was to be directed by Pirates of the Caribbean's Gore Verbinski. Early signs were encouraging, with the director keen to maintain the adult tone and themes of Irrational's 2007 game.

Since the announcement, there's been little good news emanating from the project, with Verbinski seemingly replaced by Intacto director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo early last year, and Levine later saying that Irrational was still focusing on an adaptation.

At a BAFTA talk last night promoting BioShock Infinite, the long awaited new game from Irrational, Levine explained what happened with the project - and how he personally cancelled it.

"There was a deal in place, and it was in production at Universal - Gore Verbinski was directing it," he said. "My theory is that Gore wanted to make a hard R film - which is like a 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.

Cover image for YouTube videoBioshock Infinite - Ken Levine Interview and Gameplay - Ending, Racism and Quantum Mechanics

"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."

Levine's no stranger to Hollywood, having started his professional life working as a screenwriter before getting a job at Irrational where he would go on to make System Shock 2 and BioShock - so the experience was familiar, if a little odd. "It was weird, as having been a screenwriter, begging to do anything, and then killing a movie on something you'd worked on so much.

"It was saying I don't need to compromise - how many times in life do you not need to compromise? It comes along so rarely, but I had the world, the world existed and I didn't want to see it done in a way that I didn't think was right. It may happen one day, who knows, but it'd have to be the right combination of people."

Rich Stanton recently went in search of the real Ken Levine for Eurogamer, and discovered one of the smartest, most switched on men in games development.