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Why Is There No GTA or Red Dead Redemption Movie?


Why Is There No GTA or Red Dead Redemption Movie?


Summary

  • Hollywood is finally getting video game adaptations right with the success of recent projects like
    The Last of Us
    .
  • Rockstar Games, known for
    GTA
    and
    Red Dead Redemption
    , refuses to risk its IPs with film adaptations, and fans support this.
  • Attempting to adapt the complex and cinematic stories of
    GTA
    and
    Red Dead Redemption
    to films would likely be a daunting task.



Video game adaptations are the next big thing in the movie industry. Hollywood has been attempting to bring beloved video game franchises to the big screen for decades, with limited success. Only in the last few years has Hollywood started to correct the formula of a good video game adaptation. Following the breakout success of HBO’s The Last of Us, new video game adaptations are being green-lit left, right, and center. This year alone sees the release of Prime Video’s Fallout series, Arcane Season 2, the Knuckles series, and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, to name a few.


Jack Black is set to star in yet another video game adaptation, Eli Roth’s Borderlands movie. The movie brings the eclectic characters, slapstick humor, and thrilling action of the beloved first-person shooter series to life. Jack Black is famously a gamer himself, having previously run his own gaming YouTube channel. But among the countless video game adaptations being announced, two big titles have yet to receive live-action adaptations, and Jack Black (understandably) cannot fathom why.


A Bad GTA or Red Dead Redemption Movie Would Ruin the Franchise’s Reputation


While the video game industry has slowly progressed towards ‘cinematic’ video games over the last few decades, one company has embraced that style since the start. Rockstar Games are the famous developers of two of the most acclaimed video game franchises ever made: Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and Red Dead Redemption. If you know anyone who has played the recent entries in either of these two franchises, they’ve probably mentioned once or twice (or endlessly) just how cinematic they are. According to his recent interview with TotalFilm, Jack Black feels the same way.

“I can’t believe they haven’t already started making a movie of any of the Rockstar Games.”

This is a sentiment fans have shared for years, but there have actually been attempts to make movies from Rockstar Games’ beloved IPs. Speaking to The Guardian in 2013, Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser spoke about past pitches for a GTA movie. “We’ve been offered, many times, and it’s never appealed. 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.”


Ultimately, Rockstar Games’s decision to avoid live-action film adaptations must be commended. Houser’s comments showcase the company’s protectiveness over its most successful IPs. In the age of needless reboots, franchises, and legacy sequels, a company refusing to sell its soul to the Hollywood meat grinder is incredibly respectable and unfathomable to some.

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Of course, Houser’s comments aren’t solely from a place of artistic integrity. A bad GTA movie could potentially destroy the franchise’s phenomenal reputation with fans. At the time of publication, GTA V is the third best-selling video game of all time, with around 195 million copies sold, only behind Minecraft and Tetris. Rockstar Games are looking to break that record when the long-awaited GTA VI releases in 2025. Any negative press around the GTA franchise, including a bad movie adaptation, could potentially tank GTA VI‘s forecasted sales and drastically diminish the franchise’s popularity and reputation.


Rockstar Games Want ‘Total Creative Control’ Over GTA and Red Dead Redemption

That’s not to say that a GTA or Red Dead Redemption movie (or series) will never happen, but it is highly unlikely. With the reputations of their two biggest IPs on the line, Rockstar Games would want complete creative control over any potential adaptation to ensure the highest quality.

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In 2019, Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two Interactive (Rockstar Games’ parent company), spoke to The Wrap about potential movie adaptations of Rockstar Games. Adding to Houser’s comments about protecting their IPs’ reputations, Zelnick said, “You have the most valuable intellectual property ever created by mankind: Grand Theft Auto… Are we really going to let go of that and hope that someone — no matter how talented they are — will do a really good job with it?” As frustrating as it is for fans of both games to hear that a GTA or Red Dead Redemption movie will (probably) never happen – like Houser’s statement in 2013 – it has to be respected.

However, a portion of Rockstar Games’s fan base believes that any attempts at a GTA or Red Dead Redemption movie would be redundant. The latest entries in both franchises, GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2, are widely regarded as two of the most cinematic video games ever produced, with incredible stories. Despite being set in an open world, their plots and cut scenes are on the same level as some of the best Hollywood movies in recent decades.


Additionally, both video games have far longer run-times to explore their stories and expand their characters. It takes roughly 52 hours to complete a single playthrough of Red Dead Redemption 2, and that is missing much of the side content available in the game. Condensing the complexity of such a vast narrative to a single feature film is a Herculean task that is bound to fail. Hopefully, the numerous upcoming video game adaptations will take cues from The Last of Us and find success. Jack Black appears alongside Cate Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kevin Hart in Eli Roth’s Borderlands. Borderlands hits theaters on Aug. 9.

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