The games industry is incredibly secretive, but that never stops folks from eventually spilling all the tea on the behind-the-scenes shenanigans at some of the biggest studios. Case in point: Did you know Rockstar Games once turned down a Grand Theft Auto film that would’ve starred rapper Marshall “Eminem” Mathers III?
If that blows your mind, lemme do it again: The project would’ve been led by the late Top Gun director Tony Scott and packed a budget upwards of $5 million. Oh, what could’ve been.
As spotted by Eurogamer, games industry veteran Kirk Ewing (a friend of the Houser brothers and Earthworm Jim 3D game director) revealed the news in the second episode of the BBC Sounds podcast Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game. According to Ewing, he tracked down Sam Houser, co-founder and current president of Rockstar Games, to chat about the possibility of making a tie-in film not long after the launch of GTA III.
“Actually, I don’t know if I should tell this story. Should I tell this story?” Ewing asked before podcast host Chris Warburton urged him to keep going. “I remember taking a call at about 4 a.m. from a producer in Los Angeles with an offer to make a film. He said, ‘Kirk, we’ve got Eminem to star and it’s Tony Scott to film. $5 million on the nose. Are you interested?’ I phoned up Sam [Houser] and I said, ‘Look, listen to this. They want Eminem in the Grand Theft Auto movie and Tony Scott to direct [it].’ [Sam] said, ‘Not interested.’ At that point, [Rockstar Games] withdrew from any conversation about making a film when they realized that the media franchise that they had, that what they had, was bigger than any movie that was going on at the time.”
Ewing didn’t delve further into why Rockstar Games canned the potential project. With Grand Theft Auto III launching in October 2001 to critical acclaim and Scott having wrapped up his directorial role on the action thriller Spy Game in the same year, the opportunity was right there. Unfortunately, the idea never got off the ground and Scott tragically died by suicide in August 2012. It’s unfortunate, Scott’s passing and the idea that never happened.
Kotaku has reached out to Rockstar Games for comment.
While there’s no word on a GTA film, and certainly not one with Eminem attached to it, Rockstar Games has been subjected to copious leaks relating to GTA VI lately. The studio has given up on trying to cover them up, with hackers uncovering deets about the game’s playable woman protagonist and the new take on the Vice City location. It all looks legit.