Some things are just better left unsaid (or unseen in this case).
There are some movies I just don’t want to see. The Total Recall remake was panned. The new Robocop isn’t looking any better and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we see a god-awful remake of Back to the Future (probably featuring a hybrid). Now, seeing that Back to the Future is the greatest film of all time (yeah, I said it), this is absolutely one franchise where tinkering with the successful formula would ruin it. In fact, the day the Hollywood sign burns down is the day they announce a new film featuring Mr. McFly, and is the day I’ll probably need an alibi. So, why all the ranting about “don’t beat a dead horse” and “never mess with a good thing?”
Well, it comes as the result of statements recently made by a major game exec, that have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up (and not in the good way). Five simple (and scary) words that have me a bit worried. Grand Theft Auto: The Movie.
Rockstar usually gets most of the praise for how hugely successfully the latest GTA game has become (and rightly so). However, Take-Two are the ones who handle the distribution. They are also the ones who hold the reigns of whether or not you’d see a film adaption of the popular franchise, which is something that people have speculated about for years. The possibility of turning this iconic series into a theatrical adaptation has been the stuff of myth among gamers regarding exactly how they would pull it off. In a recent interview, President of Take-Two, Karl Slatoff, touches on some of the highs and lows that such a venture could entail. "If you’re going to invest in a movie--you can make a lot of money on movies--but as a licensor, you’ve got to look at what the success rate is, what the movie has to do for you to generate substantial economics that are worth taking the risk. So if it’s a bad movie, does that hurt your franchise or not? So there is always a balance that has to be struck there. But obviously, we consider those inbound requests. We take those inbound requests. So it’s something we consider at this point, but again it's not core to what we do." Slatoff explains.
No one can deny that the possibility of a GTA film would generate tens of millions in ad revenue alone. However, (to steal a line from Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park), instead of being so preoccupied if they CAN make the film, those in charge should stop and think if they SHOULD.
Frankly, the answer is no, we do not need a GTA film. Why? Because it will suck. Sure there are those that will challenge this, hoping that perhaps a Grand Theft Auto film will be the first of its kind to finally crack the code of what it takes to make a successfully video game movie. To this I say good luck. I’ve touched on this in previous articles and my conclusions are no less true today. The fact is, Hollywood doesn’t understand how to make a game interesting on film. Maybe it’s not totally their fault, as some elements of gaming just don’t translate well. Besides, I can easily envision what a GTA film would look like. One Michael Bay style car chase after another with the occasional seedy strip club thrown in for good measure. Oh, and don’t forget more motor company branding than you can shake a stick it. Ford, Camaro and a myriad of others will all line up to get their latest gas guzzling, over-priced heap featured in the film.
Plus, they’ll have to write a script at some point (don’t forget about that little detail). What story would a Grand Theft Auto movie tell? A down and out car thief who’s forced back into his old profession to help an endangered family member? Wait, we already saw that in Gone in 60 Seconds. How about an up and coming prospect in the mob and his struggles to balance his crime family with his real family. Oh, sound like GoodFellas? It should considering Ray Liotta starred in GTA: Vice City.
OK fine, how about a casino manager? Wait, that’s Casino.
You see my point? A good GTA film has already been done far better than it could be if they tried to shoe-horn it into theaters now. No good can come of such a film, as it would just be an over-hyped/over-commercialized hand job for those wanting to milk the license. Also, I’m resisting the temptation to drag out the countless failures of previous game-to-film translations to back up this point (the most recent being Need for Speed with Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul). So to Mr. Slatoff’s earlier question of “…if it’s a bad movie, does that hurt your franchise or not?”; the answer is clearly yes, it will hurt you.
So I say why chance it? No reason at all to put a huge blemish on a franchise that’s already batting a 1,000. Just stick to what you know and keep your momentum rolling in the right direction.