Grand Theft Auto: The Movie – Coming Soon?

Grand Theft Auto // Credit: Rockstar Games

In this article, we will break down why Grand Theft Auto would make a good movie, what ingredients the film would need to remain true to the games and provide some suggestions for creatives to make it work.


Many are often understandably apprehensive about turning games into movies because a game fundamentally puts you in control of the experience. There are often tight parameters regarding choices but your actions dictate the game’s pace – something which no movie can replicate. However, the modern Grand Theft Auto series has excelled at telling stories that feel right at home on the big screen. With its focus on character development, visual spectacle and twisting narrative threads that are just as engaging to watch as they are to play through. 

Additionally, a GTA film’s more limited runtime would allow for a more precise distillation of what makes the series great rather than allowing for all the fun but often pointless overindulgences featured in many of the new games. Simply put, it is possible for GTA to become the basis for a good movie. 

What Makes Grand Theft Auto?

But what elements should a GTA movie include to capture the series’ mood?

  1. Original Character-driven Crime Story

A GTA movie should tell an original story to avoid unfavourable game comparisons. It should focus on creating an engaging main character (given the toxic masculine mainstream image of GTA a woman lead would be a good idea) whose life is thoroughly explored through a well-plotted crime narrative.

  1. Incisive Commentary

Despite its popular image of indulging in mindless sex and violence GTA also features sharp social commentary. Whether it be GTA IV’s exploration of the alienation forced on people emigrating to America, San Andreas’ examination of racism and police brutality or the series sending up American greed. A GTA movie should focus on delivering real-world critiques to keep its sting.

  1. Detailed World

GTA’s game worlds are full of things to experience. Radio stations, in-universe films and TV shows, comedy shows, nightclubs and more. Those making a GTA film will have to put a lot of thought into the world’s details and how they serve the film’s story to make it feel as lived-in as the games.

  1. Clever Controversy

Whether it’s the hot coffee mod or the increasing revelry in graphic violence Grand Theft Auto often courts controversy. Though as mentioned, underpinning this material is a commitment to commenting on social issues. Even if the writers fail sometimes, thus a GTA film shouldn’t be afraid to include edgy material. As long as it furthers its themes and its use is carefully considered. It shouldn’t just be needlessly offensive.

  1. Humour

Any Grand Theft Auto movie needs a funny streak. The series often uses hyperbolic parody and its characters’ darkly humorous personalities to deliver the series’ dark themes and narratives. Many would argue the sense of humour is what really gets audiences to engage with GTA. 

Getting Away With It 

Lastly, let’s hypothesise about some creatives who could make a good job of a GTA adaptation.

Rose Glass

Her latest film Love Lies Bleeding shows Rose Glass can make a violent character-focused crime film that comments on social issues. If she was given an even bigger canvas to work with she could easily make an interesting GTA adaptation.

Love Lies Bleeding shows Rose Glass could make an interesting GTA film // Credit: Lionsgate
Love Lies Bleeding shows Rose Glass could make an interesting GTA film // Credit: Lionsgate

Dev Patel

Dev Patel’s Monkey Man is an excellent bone-crunching crime film that deals with interesting political themes about oppression, violence and patriarchy and gives us a very fleshed-out world. With a bigger budget, more humour and a willingness to push everything even further Dev Patel could easily make a GTA film. 

The action of Monkey Man would be welcome in a film of GTA // Credit: Universal
The action of Monkey Man would be welcome in a film of GTA // Credit: Universal

Martin Scorsese

Scorsese’s work has greatly influenced GTA already. With him having produced great character-focused, comically tinged, socially conscious crime films like King of Comedy and Wolf of Wall Street and his great ability to build detailed worlds that become characters in themselves Martin Scorsese would probably be everyone’s dream choice to bring GTA to the big screen.

GTA owes a great debt to Scorsese films like Goodfellas // Credit: Warner Bros
GTA owes a great debt to Scorsese films like Goodfellas // Credit: Warner Bros

Personally, I think a GTA film is on the horizon. So long as the makers include the elements crucial to the games’ success a GTA film would be a welcome cinematic sight.

Also Read: Is Hollywood Starting To Take Video Games Seriously?

Posted by
Josh Greally

Writer and filmmaker. I have a masters in directing film and television and have written film reviews for several smaller sites in the past. Films are my life, but I also enjoy writing, reading, listening to music and debating.