Game industry veteran Kirk Ewing recently revealed that the Rockstar Games co-founder Sam Houser once turned down an opportunity to make a Grand Theft Auto movie starring Eminem (as reported by the BBC and VGC).
Ewing, whose video game State of Emergency was published by Rockstar in 2002, told BBC's Bugzy Malone's Grandest Game podcast that a Hollywood agent once approached him with a deal back when Grand Theft Auto III was starting to take the world by storm. However, Houser ultimately said he was "not interested" and turned down the $5 million offer for the film rights.
As he recalls, the deal would have seen the rapper-turned-actor attached, as well as the Top Gun director Tony Scott. This would have been around the time that Eminem had just released 8-Mile (2002) for which he had received praise; and a year after Scott had completed Spy Game (2001) featuring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.
Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about the Grand Theft Auto series making the jump from video game consoles to cinema screens, but this is perhaps the most definitive account of just how close it came to being a reality.
We did, however, hear this small titbit from the former Rockstar North employee Obbe Vermeij earlier this year, who informed us of another attempt following a chat about video game adaptations:
"The Housers often talked about doing a Grand Theft Auto movie but they were reluctant to give away control. I think they spoke with a few studios at the time (New Line??). Maybe around 2006. They considered writing their own script but none of it got very far. "
I guess, for now, we'll just have to stick with this promotional film that the company ended up producing for Grand Theft Auto 2.