grandtheftauto-movie1.JPG 

Given that Grand Theft Auto IV blew away the global retail sales record, a day doesn’t go by that I’m not asked about when it’s going to be made into a movie. Of course, that happens with every best-selling video game. But this isn’t a case of the project veering horribly off track like, say, Halo. Nah, this is something altogether different. I’ve learned that Fox Atomic owns the rights to Grand Theft Auto. But to the movie title, not the game. It was, of course, Ron Howard who wrote and directed and starred in the little pic Grand Theft Auto back in 1977 for Roger Corman. So Fox optioned the rights for the Howard/Corman movie title a while back. A studio insider clarifies for me: “Yes, Fox owns the Corman movie. Yes, it has been one of 400 development projects for several years. But they are nowhere on the script. It has certainly not been a front-burner project.” Strangely, the success of the video game hasn’t put any new impetus on the studio to formulate a plan. And it doesn’t matter that a supposed legal settlement over the game/movie/title dictates that Rockstar can’t make a Grand Theft Auto movie or Corman/Howard/Fox a video game out of the title. C’mon, the movie can still shrewdly piggyback off the game’s global branding. Here’s my idea: Fox for old times sake should offer the project to Ron Howard since GTA jump-started his directorial career. Then let him incubate as a producer a new action franchise where The Fast And The Furious meets, say, NASCAR which is always looking for Hollywood tie-ins. And let’s just be thankful that Warner Bros doesn’t own the title or Alan Horn would insist the stunts be done in a Prius…