The next few years will see the release of multiple movies based on the storylines of popular video games, including this summer’s action film Hitman: Agent 47, as well as Sony’s Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed movies (which are both slated to arrive in 2016). Although the trend of creating films based on games could potentially become more successful because of these releases (that is, if they overcome the challenges presented in the adaptation process), Hollywood has also produced quite a few lackluster features based on games, too.
However, the BBC has taken a different path in terms of bringing video games to the big screen: adapting the story behind the creation and controversy surrounding Grand Theft Auto. This route is not without its own challenges, though, as Rockstar Games – the U.S.-based company that produces Grand Theft Auto – is suing the BBC over the forthcoming feature.
IGN is reporting Rockstar Games issued a statement (via its parent company Take Two Interactive) that the company has filed a suit against the BBC, alleging trademark infringement in the upcoming movie (currently going under the working title Game Changer).
Read the statement in full:
“Take-Two Interactive has filed suit against the BBC for trademark infringement based on their movie currently titled ‘Game Changer’ as it relates to Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto video game series.
“While holders of the trademarks referenced in the film title and its promotion, Rockstar Games has had no involvement with this project. Our goal is to ensure that our trademarks are not misused in the BBC’s pursuit of an unofficial depiction of purported events related to Rockstar Games. We have attempted multiple times to resolve this matter with the BBC without any meaningful resolution. It is our obligation to protect our intellectual property and unfortunately in this case litigation was necessary.”
While the 90-minute feature Game Changer deals with the story behind Grand Theft Auto, the film is based on David Kushner’s novel Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. The book details the success of the game as well as the battle between Rockstar Games co-founder Sam Houser and the lawyer Jack Thompson. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, Horns) and Bill Paxton (Aliens, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) were announced to star in the film as Houser and Thompson respectively; Game Changer began production last month and was previously expected to air in the second half of 2015.
The BBC has not commented on this lawsuit, so there’s no indication of how it will impact the production of Game Changer. While an agreement may be made between the BBC and Rockstar Games (one that allows Grand Theft Auto content to appear in the movie), it’s also possible the lawsuit could derail the film entirely.
That being said, even if the BBC is forbidden from using Grand Theft Auto material, Game Changer could still move forward following a resolved lawsuit. In a similar case, the John Ridley-helmed Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is by My Side was denied the rights to the guitarist’s music and was released in 2013. While the film received decent-but-mixed reviews, it may have proven that dancing around the subject of focus is an unconquerable challenge for a filmmaker.
How the trademark lawsuit works out for the BBC and Rockstar Games remains to be seen. However, it seems the future of Game Changer heavily rests on the outcome – and whether the companies can settle their differences, in order to maintain the film’s connection to Grand Theft Auto.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more news about the Grand Theft Auto film Game Changer as it becomes available.