Upon its 2013 release, Grand Theft Auto 5 became the fastest selling entertainment title ever. That’s not just in the gaming world, either; that includes movies, albums, you name it, GTA eclipsed them all. Of course, the series is not without its share of controversies either, namely the violence in the games and the impact this might have upon impressionable children.
Whatever your thoughts on GTA itself, the story behind its creation is a fascinating and compelling one, involving a group of British game designers and an American lawyer determined to stop the rise of the series and its influence on kids (despite the fact they shouldn’t be allowed access to an M rated game in the first place). For the first time, the story behind GTA and the lawsuit battle between Rockstar Game’s president, Sam Houser and lawyer Jack Thompson, has been fictionalized and turned into a TV movie, titled The Gamechangers.
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, Horns) plays Houser, co-founder of Rockstar, as seen in the above preview for The Gamechangers. Together with a bunch of friends who had known each other since school, he came up with the GTA series, creating a vast virtual world where players can explore a criminal underworld or take on a series of dangerous missions.
Meanwhile, Bill Paxton (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Aliens) plays the part of Thompson, who thinks the Brits have “little regard for the welfare of our children.” Thompson leads Rockwood games into a lengthy courtroom battle after the huge success of GTA III in 2001 which (spoiler alert?) was ultimately thrown out of court.
The TV movie will air on BBC2 in the UK on September 15, with no current word on when or if it might arrive on BBC America. It’s based on David Kushner’s 2012 book "Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto". The script for The Gamechangers comes from James Wood (Rev, Ambassadors) and the film is directed by Owen Harris (Misfits, Secret Diary of a Call Girl).
Interestingly, The Gamechangers is also not without its fair share of legal troubles. Back in May this year, Take Two Interactive- Rockstar’s parent company- launched a lawsuit againt the BBC for copyright infringement, to apparently “ensure that our trademarks are not misused in the BBC’s pursuit of an unofficial depiction of purported events related to Rockstar Games.” Still, the movie has carried on regardless and has made it to the small screen, though it is unclear whether any of the game footage can or will be used.
The casting of Paxton and Radcliffe is interesting, and it’ll certainly be fun to see them battling it out in the courtroom. The story is also a definite pull, though it’s hard to know how much of it has been sensationalized for TV - given that it lacks any involvement or approval from Rockstar. Ultimately though, while the teaser looks fairly intriguing, the movie seems to lack any kind of punch, so this may amount to little more than a generic TV movie.
The Gamechangers airs on BBC2 in the UK, on Tuesday, September 15th at 9pm.