Grand Theft Auto developer has turned down "many" movie offers
"The money's never been close to be worth risking one's crown jewels," says Rockstar Games cofounder on the prospect of a Grand Theft Auto movie.
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In a rare interview with the Guardian, Rockstar Games cofounder and vice president of creativity Dan Houser spoke about how the studio has been offered "many times" to create a Grand Theft Auto movie.
"We've been offered, many times, and it's never appealed," said 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."
"There's still plenty of kudos in doing a film, but you shouldn't ever do anything in your life for kudos," added Houser.
"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?"
"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?"
Speaking to GameSpot in 2011 to reflect on Grand Theft Auto III, Houser said the developer was trying to "get past" the film industry.
"We didn't make a GTA movie for a reason, and the choice was ours," said Houser at the time. "We probably could have got most people to do it, but we had no interest in doing it. One of the points about GTA was, it was the first time where if you thought about moving it into cinema, you were condensing it, not expanding it. It wasn't like how do you find all the things you put into the film? It was how do you streamline this into a cinematic experience? That's something where we never figured out the answer to the question. It was something that didn't exist in 50 different media. It was a game property, and that was something to cherish and not be embarrassed by."
"But no, we never remotely actively pursued a movie. Because we thought in games we could do something that was maybe limited in lots of ways, but in scope and ambition was beyond movies. Games are trying to, hopefully, aspire to do something that movies can't do. That's what's exciting about them. We're not trying to be like the film industry; we're trying to get past the film industry."
Grand Theft Auto V will be released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17.