A little over two weeks after turning down the fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, director Gore Verbinski's current gig is in peril.  Variety reports that Universal Studios has but the big screen adaptation of the best-selling video game "Bioshock" on hold.

Adapted by John Logan ("Gladiator"), the movie's expected storyline takes place in the underwater city Rapture, where a pilot crash lands and becomes involved in a power struggle.

In pre-production, the picture's budget reached heights of $160 million.  Considering the unfavorable results of most video game movies, something Universal previously experienced with the disappointing results or "Doom," that was enough to give the NBCUni division pause.  Shooting was scheduled to begin in Los Angeles, but now the parties are considering London or other cities as a way to cut costs.

Verbinski told the trade, "We were asked by Universal to move the film outside the U.S. to take advantage of a tax credit.  We are evaluating whether this is something we want to do. In the meantime, the film is in a holding pattern."

Sources tell the trade the situation is similar to what occurred with the Ridley Scott's current untitled Robin Hood picture starring Russell Crowe that was delayed until the studio found a storyline, budget and cast they were comfortable with. 

Intriguingly, all involved insist that "Bioshock" will not become another "Halo."  That expected blockbuster came to a grinding halt after both Universal and 20th Century Fox freaked over an escalating budget and deal points with rights holder Microsoft.  Considering how popular that franchise still is, it's curious to see if another studio will ever re-approach the software giant about a movie version of the X-Box title. 

In the meantime, Verbinski is continuing his work directing the Paramount animated film "Rango" which features the voice of his former "Pirates" leading man Johnny Depp.