There's a pretty good case to be made for the claim that there's never been a truly great movie that had its origins in a video game. It seems ridiculous to think that Hollywood and video games, two huge, global multi-billion dollar industries, have never found a way to successfully compliment each other.
Sure, there's a long history of blockbusters being turned into video games - one that instantly comes to mind is Goldeneye, the Nintendo 64 game which was that console's biggest seller after Super Mario and Mario Kart. And there have been decent movies made off the back of a game in the past, too: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time wasn't bad per se, Resident Evil became popular enough to spawn about seventeen sequels, and we saw a decent take on Lara Croft in two Tomb Raider movies, with a reboot rumoured to be in production.
But the generally accepted view is that the potential for some of the best video games to be brought to life on the big screen remains completely untapped - which is why a Grand Theft Auto movie could not only be killer in itself, but could make history by setting the benchmark for game to movie adaptions.
Bringing Los Santos to life
GTA V, the most recent entry in the franchise, also happens to be one of the top 5 biggest selling games of all-time or thereabouts, and that's not just sheer luck. The world created by Rockstar is laced with a kind of clever duality: on the surface it's macho, sleazy and blood-soaked in a way that gamers have come to expect from this genre of video game.
But beneath that there's a degree of light satire which pokes fun at America's most ridiculous excesses. It's a heightened interpretation of what the world has become and where it's headed. Which is kind of genius, actually. One of the challenges movies often face is the difficulty of making their world feel real. A GTA movie would bypass this; Los Santos is designed to feel hyper-real.
The story itself could be borrowed from GTA V, which might be the safe option - but on the flipside, a brand new story might be the more creative way to go, ideally as a collaboration between Rockstar and whichever studio is fronting the cash. The film could drop us in a cold opening sequence with our protagonist (be it Michael, Franklin, Trevor or an all-new character) caught up in an epic chase with the cops. We see him climb the Vinewood sign. He's clutching a package, something the cops want - diamonds, perhaps? - and the only reason he's not dead yet. He takes a swan-dive into the valley and we cut to "24 hours earlier..." That's just an idea. You probably have a hundred better ones. The point is, the potential of this heist story to translate to the big-screen is seriously big.
What about the film already being made?
I was pretty excited to hear that the BBC were making their own Grand Theft Auto TV movie, but in truth it doesn't sound all that thrilling. It's not an adaptation of the game, it's a drama about Sam Houser, the co-founder of Rockstar Games. Not that this won't be entertaining in its own right - Daniel Radcliffe is set to star as Houser, and he's been choosing some pretty interesting projects recently (see him next in Victor Frankenstein) - but it's not the GTA project I've been waiting for.
The above fan-made film, despite being made on a low budget, actually does an awesome job of capturing the essence of the game with some surprisingly epic visual effects, and keeps the feel of a third-person shooter. If a GTA movie wanted to take a risk, it could also restrict us to this viewpoint, even going so far as to never reveal our protagonist's face. That would be pretty spectacular.
GTA V took a record $1 billion within three days on sale. It took the current record-holding film, Jurassic World, two weeks to reach that milestone. The gaming community is ready and waiting for a faithful, entertaining, creative movie based on a game. Where better to start than Grand Theft Auto?
Could a GTA movie could be the cinematic event of the year, and potentially herald a new dawn of video games on the big screen? Share your thoughts...