The BioShock movie might be on ice but director Gore Verbinski still sees big potential in videogames and now wants to try his hand at producing them.
Production on the BioShock movie has ground to a halt while Verbinski and Universal Pictures try to trim its corpulent $160 million budget down to something a little more reasonable, but Verbinski's commitment to the game industry remains solid. He recently hired former Pandemic designer Will Stahl to work at his production company Blind Wink and has a "first look" deal with Universal that includes videogames. But he's also very aware that Hollywood's record in the game industry is not one to be particularly proud of.
"It's a mistake for Hollywood to impose themselves on the gaming space. Not only is it arrogant, but it hasn't really worked," he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "The presumption that we have a better understanding of narrative that we can bring to gaming is flawed at its core because interactive entertainment is a completely different way to navigate and explore what compels you in that world."
"As a filmmaker, I'm absolutely fascinated with the idea that the protagonist is the audience. That mandates a new form of narrative at its core. So you can't really take the skill sets we have for making movies and impose them upon games. Hollywood has made a mistake to think they can enter this space and somehow provide better storytelling," he said.
Blind Wink is currently developing five different game projects, with one in the prototype stage. Verbinski described them as "wildly diverse," saying his company is "taking a conventional [first person shooter] experience and tweaking it in a way that hasn't been thought of before. We looked at it from a different angle and changed the experience."
"All the way on the other side, we're doing big epic narratives that are four quadrant experiences," he continued. "And then we're doing some really radical thinking. That's more difficult to fund immediately, but we're think-tanking it because we feel like there's tremendous potential."
As for the future of the BioShock movie, Verbinski sounded doubtful about its future. He reiterated the need to shoot the movie overseas but said his "prohibitive" schedule might make it impossible. "It really comes down to the financial model now. Big movies are just not being shot in the States," he said. "I'm weighing whether I can physically go the U.K. or Australia or one of those other places with a tax rebate for a year-and-a-half."