Dan Houser is one of the co-founders of Rockstar Games, the gaming studio that's brought the world Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, L.A. Noire and, of course, the Grand Theft Auto series. Speaking to The Guardian in a fascinating and in-depth piece about the company, Houser discussed the often-mooted idea of a Grand Theft Auto film spin-off.
"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. 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."
Remember that in GTA: San Andreas the word 'fuck' was spoken 365 times, in GTA: Vice City Stories Phil Collins almost gets assassinated as he sings 'In The Air Tonight' and the joyfully controversial disc jockey Lazlow Jones gets into all sorts of trouble in all the recent editions of the games. That is to say, this is not a franchise that feels it needs to dumb itself down.
"There's still plenty of kudos in doing a film, but you shouldn't ever do anything in your life for kudos," Houser adds. "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?"
Considering the previous big release in the GTA franchise, GTA IV, sold 631,000 copies in the UK alone on its first day of release - £40 times 631,000 = £25 million - there's no real reason why they shouldn't keep doing that. Grand Theft Auto V, the final GTA game to come out on Xbox 360 and PS3, is out on September 17, which may explain why no big name films are coming out that weekend... unless you count Diana and R.I.P.D. as big name films, of course.