The controversial Grand Theft Auto videogame series is possibly the most popular modern videogame franchise in America. Not only is it universally well-reviewed and insanely lucrative, but it also changed the artistic landscape in videogames forever – in more ways than one.
So, it’s only natural to wonder why the heck there hasn’t been a movie, a TV show, a comic book, or some kind of shampoo/conditioner/two-in-one line based on the series. Recently, The Hollywood Reporter talked to Rockstar’s vice president of creative, Dan Houser, about a number of things, and asked that very question.
When asked about his feelings on videogames being adapted into other media, Houser said:
“No one has done it very successfully yet. Virtually all movies made from games are awful, while many games made from movies are also pretty horrible. This will change, but with an ever more discerning audience, the goals of taking something from film-to-games or game-to-film have to be more than financial. If you feel the property has something about it that is universal or could work in another medium, and it is not simply about making easy money, then that is something worthwhile. Too often, however, the aim appears to be to cash-in on the success of a particular game, book, pop singer, website, etc., and that usually produces mediocre results.”
This may very well be one of the smartest things ever written about video game movies (and movie-based videogames, for that matter). It’s a rare thing to hear about a filmmaker who wants to create a cinematic work of art based on a videogame of the same name. Rather, movie studios buy up the film rights to popular videogames with the sole intention of dumping millions of dollars into their bank accounts. The filmmakers and their artistic intentions are but an afterthought, if that.
Check out the trailer for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City below:
On the topic of why none of Rockstar’s videogame franchises have been made into films, Dan Houser said:
“We have explored a lot of movie deals, but we have just chosen not to make a movie. We love movies, but we also love games and that is what we remain focused on. If we were to attempt to make a movie, we would like to make it ourselves, or at least work in collaboration with the best talent, so at least if it is bad, we can know we failed on our own terms. But doing that takes time, and making games properly takes a lot of time. So, we may make movies one day, with the right property and the right partnership, but we have not found the time to do that yet.”
Frankly, the idea that Rockstar (or Valve) – experts at videogame-making, but amateurs at filmmaking – might manage to make their own fully-financed GTA (or Half-Life) film sounds like a bit of a pipe-dream to me. On the other hand, the idea that they might have significant creative control by way of a partnership with a film studio of their choice sounds much more reasonable, plausible, and interesting. We’ll see if it comes to fruition.
The question remains: what would a Grand Theft Auto film look like? The videogames are rife with movie and pop culture references – from The Godfather to Scarface to Miami Vice and so forth – so much so that a film that emulated that style might look more like a spoof or a rip-off than a genuinely worthwhile cinematic venture. Heck, it's the reason we left GTA off our Ten Unique Videogames That Could Be Awesome Movies list.
Rockstar’s next big videogame, L.A. Noire – which looks a whole lot like my second favorite film ever, L.A. Confidential – hits shelves May 17th, 2011. It’s also an official selection at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter