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The truth about a Grand Theft Auto movie

The truth about a Grand Theft Auto movie is that it will never happen. This isn't just a rumor, either. Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick has officially said that the company has no plans and will not entertain any plans of making a GTA movie or TV show

This might come as surprising news, considering how lucrative film and television adaptations can be. When Grand Theft Auto 5 was first released, reviewers compared it to respected serial dramas like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, ripe and ready for the small screen. Zelnick explained in an interview with TheWrap, however, that Take-Two is unwilling to cede any creative control when it comes to its most successful franchise.

Who would make the GTA movie?

"Part of it is, if we were to do something like that," Zelnick said, "we'd want to have complete creative control to make sure we expressed [GTA] in the way we wanted – and that would mean we'd need to finance that motion picture."

Take-Two, parent company of Rockstar Games, surely has enough money to do so. Money isn't the issue, however. Zelnick said it's more of an issue as to who can be trusted to represent GTA on the big screen.

 "You have the most valuable intellectual property ever created by mankind, Grand Theft Auto, we wholly own and control it," Zelnick mused. "Are we really gonna let go of that and hope that someone, no matter how talented they are, will do a really good job of it?"

Back in 2013, Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser throughly nixed the idea of a GTA movie, despite revealing the fact that the company had apparently been approached several times by studios. "The freedom we have to do what we want creatively is of enormous value," Houser said in an interview with Empire. "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."

Adaptations usually stir up controversy. Just look at the disastrous final season of Game of Thrones. Despite the series making money hand over fist, fans revolted against the ending that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff had in mind. If they failed, who can be trusted with the good name of GTA

According to Zelnick, no one outside of Take-Two can be trusted with adapting GTA. He cites Take-Two's lack of "corporate expertise" when it comes to movie-making as well. So unless Take-Two is secretly harboring directors of Spielberg-caliber, don't expect a GTA movie anytime soon. Or ever.

What would the GTA movie look like?

Besides, what would a Grand Theft Auto movie even look like? Jason Stathem jumping out of an exploding car? We think we've seen that movie a time or two. Houser said Grand Theft Auto would be better represented on the small screen, in a TV series. He still, however, thinks that an adaptation would be a bad move. 

"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." he said, "How do you condense that into a two-hour or 12-hour experience where you take away the main things: player agency and freedom?"

Video game movies are typically... not that great. Big screen adaptations try to squeeze dozens of hours of content down into just an hour or two. Need we remind you of the famous flop known as Prince of Persia? Assassin's Creed? Warcraft? There are plenty of bad video game movies to pick from, and plenty more on the way. We'll admit that Sonic the Hedgehog is looking remarkably more watchable after a much-needed makeover, but there has yet to be a video game movie that can properly represent an open world game. 

Our bet is that the eventual Uncharted movie may just break the curse of the video game movie; if it ever gets through development hell, that is. Uncharted is linear enough to tell a succinct story, whereas the world of Grand Theft Auto is too sprawling to cram into a film, or even a 12-episode season. 

Grand Theft Auto is a game, only a game, and Rockstar intends on keeping it that way. In the wise words of Dan Houser, "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?"

Please continue, Dan. And maybe give us a hint as to what's happening with Grand Theft Auto 6 while you're at it.