A couple of weeks ago Gore Verbinski made some noise that had us all thinking that Bioshock, an adaptation of the really, really okay video game, would be his next feature. But it turns out that we shouldn’t be counting our Adam until its harvested from Little Sisters, as Variety is reporting that the film has stalled at Universal. The problem? The budget.

Bioshock is currently weighing in at a hefty 160 million dollars, a number that must scare any exec in these fiscally uncertain times (also scary: Verbinski’s desire to shoot with an all-pig cast, very risky in these swine flu times). Universal blinked and the entire pre-production process has been stopped; some of the staff have even been let go.

One of the solutions Universal has floated is moving production from LA to somewhere like London, where they can get tax credits. Verbinski says he’s ‘thinking about’ doing just that. What would Ayn Rand say?!?

On his Twitter feed, Slashfilm’s Peter Sciretta made a statement that I thought was weird:

Don’t worry video
gamers, the BioShock deal is structured in a way ensuring the movie
won’t end up in turnaround.. it will happen eventually

That’s weird for a couple of reasons (and I checked with some Hollywood producers to make sure my understanding of this was correct): a deal where the movie can’t go into turnaround is a deal that hurts the filmmakers, and turnaround exists for precisely situations like this. If Universal won’t foot the bill, maybe Warner Bros will. But if the movie can’t go into turnaround, it’s stuck at Universal, and since Universal isn’t willing to shell out the big bucks Verbinski wants/needs to make the film, it’ll be trapped in development hell forever. (I only link to that because Pete seems to know something about the deal that was made that I don’t).

While Universal tries to spin this as no big deal, the laying off of pre-production staff doesn’t bode well for Bioshock happening any time soon.