Take-Two Interactive is getting into the movie business with a big-screen adaptation of BioShock, with Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski at the helm.

Universal Studios has signed a deal that will see Take-Two receive a “multimillion-dollar” advance on the film, according to a Variety report, in what is thought to be the biggest videogame-movie deal since the 2005 deal between Universal, Fox and Microsoft for the movie adaptation of Halo. But Take-Two Chairman Strauss Zelnick said the deal is structured to ensure the movie actually gets made, unlike the Halo project which is currently stuck in limbo.

Zelnick also put his experience as a past president of Fox to negotiate the deal directly, rather than use a producer. “One of the things we decided early on is that we didn’t want to go through a producer,” Zelnick said. “It’s terribly important to us to have a meaningful influence on how this project is produced. We didn’t want any insulation between us.”

The script is being handled by John Logan, whose previous projects include Gladiator, The Last Samurai and The Aviator. Verbinski expressed particular enthusiasm for the game’s potential as a movie adaptation, and said he hoped to begin preproduction on the movie as soon as the script is ready. “I think the whole utopia-gone-wrong story that’s cleverly unveiled to players is just brimming with cinematic potential,” he said. “Of all the games I’ve played, this is one that I felt has a really strong narrative.”

Despite the strength of cinematic franchises like Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt , BioShock is Take-Two’s first-ever movie deal. No release schedule has been announced, although it will be “almost certainly” sometime after the launch of the BioShock sequel, currently slated for 2009.

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