Want a Grand Theft Auto movie? Tough, you're not getting one.
A blockbuster video game franchise with a mass market appeal, fast paced action, car chases, heists, helicopters, shoot outs, colorful characters...sounds like it could make for a pretty good movie, right? Sure. But despite Rockstar's newfound penchant for pouring mad money into the upcoming game's blockbuster style budget, there likely won't ever be a movie based on anything Grand Theft Auto related. Why, you ask?
That's what Empire asked Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser. Not unexpectedly, the studio had been approached many times before to turn its ever-popular franchise into a movie, however, "it's never appealed," explained Houser. The money's never been close to be worth risking one's crown jewels. Our small dabblings with Hollywood have always left us running back to games. The freedom we have to do what we want creatively is of enormous value."
"The second you go near Hollywood, people seem willing, or have been forced, to lose a lot of that control. That sort of amorphous 'that won't test well' attitude is exactly how we don't work. We've always tried to think of stuff that's innovative and new, and to go into a world where that's not encouraged would be horrible."
Much like a lot of properties, compacting any GTA game into a movie would require a lot of work. Obviously, there would have to be a lot left on the cutting room floor, creative liberties taken, and so on and so forth. As they're an interactive experience, people can, have, and will spend hours on a single game. Dozens of hours, maybe even hundreds. But on a single movie? Not so much.
According to Houser, if anything, GTA could potentially make for a decent television series, but even then, there's only so much it could get away with:
"There's still plenty of kudos in doing a film, but you shouldn't ever do anything in your life for kudos. It's much easier to imagine GTA as a TV series, as the form is closer, but I still think we'd be losing too much to ever actually do it. We've got this big open-world experience that's 100 hours long, and that gives players control over what they do, what they see, and how they see it.
"A world where you can do everything from rob a bank to take a yoga lesson to watch TV, all in your own time. How do you condense that into a two-hour or 12-hour experience where you take away the main things: player agency and freedom?"
Simply put, you don't. That combined with movie studios' history for changing a vast amount of a game's features and adapt it to the big screen, or to give it more appeal to a wider audience is often the reason for video game based movies historically poor box office performance. "House of the Dead," "Super Mario Bros.," Double friggin' Dragon. Need I say more? Of course, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions, but the stinkers unfortunately outnumber the tolerable game based movies.
Houser put it best, really: "We love games and we think we've got something to say in games, and that games have plenty to say. So shouldn't we just continue doing that?"