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The Eminem-Starring Grand Theft Auto Movie You'll Never Get To See

In an era where Hollywood is adapting what seems like every property they can get their hands on, many fans are probably wondering why there has never been a "Grand Theft Auto" movie made, given how it is one of the highest-selling video game franchises out there. While an interpretation has still yet to grace the silver screen, there was a point in time when moviegoers almost got a "GTA" movie starring international rap superstar Eminem.

There have been many video game flicks, some better than others, and while a solid number of titles have been successful at the box office, translating the console fun into an entertaining cinematic endeavor has always been widely considered to be a tricky business. Just because a franchise does well with gamers or offers a next-level gameplay experience attracting millions of users doesn't mean things are guaranteed to always work out at the box office. But some would argue that a "Grand Theft Auto" feature is a no-brainer. Everything the game has to offer could arguably be turned into a thrilling, action-packed crime drama. Anyone who has played any of the iterations released over the years knows there is plenty of wild mayhem and stellar stories that could make for a worthwhile movie night.

It isn't like Rockstar Games, the makers of the beloved crime-ridden franchise, hasn't gotten offers to bring their property to the big screen. There was even a moment when the controversial Grammy-winning artist was even pitched as a star of a "Grand Theft Auto" motion picture.

The real Slim Shady almost stood up in a GTA flick

According to Kirk Ewing, a seasoned player in the gaming industry, shortly after "Grand Theft Auto III" came out, he spoke with "GTA" co-creator Sam Houser about a possible film adaptation, and then an alluring offer came into play. ​​"I remember taking a call at about 4 am from one of the producers in LA with an offer to make a film, and he said: 'Kirk, we've got Eminem to star, and it's a Tony Scott film, five million on the nose, are you interested?'" Ewing said on the BBC podcast Bugzy Malone's Grandest Game. But when he told Houser about it, he was shocked when the "GTA" head honcho said he was not interested. After that, the idea of the game making the jump to the big screen disappeared.

For those that don't remember, "GTA III" came out in 2001. At the time, Eminem was riding the success of "The Marshall Mathers LP" and was getting into the acting game with a starring role in the critically acclaimed feature "8 Mile." "Top Gun" director, Tony Scott, had films like "Enemy of the State" and "Spy Game" released in that era, adding to the many reasons the two were presumably chosen. But it appears they weren't what was bothering Houser; it was the money. In an interview with Empire, he revealed why "GTA" hadn't received the movie treatment: "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." 

It seems Hollywood will have to make Rockstar an offer they can't refuse if they ever want to get a "Grand Theft Auto" movie made.

A GTA Movie at All Seems Pretty Unlikely

The days when an Eminem-starring "Grand Theft Auto" movie could happen seem long gone. However, the overwhelmingly positive response to the leaked "GTA 6" trailer, along with video game adaptations being more popular than ever thanks to successes like "The Last of Us" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," may make fans think a "GTA" film could still be on the table. But it'd be best not to hold your breath.

Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two Interactive, spoke with The Wrap in 2019 about the possibility of a "GTA" movie at some point. "Part of it is, if we were to do something like that, 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," Zelnick said. He then got into the Catch-22 of the issue: he and others who work at Take-Two aren't super familiar with the film industry, so he doubts they could adequately adapt the game into a movie. Simply put, he just doesn't trust anyone else to do "GTA" justice. "You have the most valuable intellectual property ever created by mankind: 'Grand Theft Auto.' We wholly own and control it," the executive noted. "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?"

A lot has changed from 2019 to now, but it sounds like Zelnick is still incredibly protective over the "GTA" IP. As to whether "Grand Theft Auto" is truly the best thing created in the history of humanity, that's up to fans to debate ad nauseam.