GTA and Red Dead Redemption adaptations never happened because "games made poor-quality movies," Rockstar Games co-founder says, but "it's a different time now"

Lucia asks the man if they have trust in the GTA 6 trailer
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

With the mammoth successes of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, it's somewhat surprising that neither ever made it to the big screen, but Rockstar Games' former co-founder and former lead writer says that Hollywood certainly tried to make it happen. 

Rockstar Games veteran Dan Houser, in an interview with The Ankler, says that the studio went on "a few awkward dates" with film executives who were hungry to get GTA's money-making name in theatres. "We'd ask [them], why would we do this?" Houser explains, with the executives supposedly responding that the team would "get to make a movie."

"And we'd be like, no," Houser continues, "what you've described is you making a movie and us having no control and taking a huge risk that we're going to end up paying for with something that belongs to us. They thought we’d be blinded by the lights and that just wasn't the case. We had what we considered to be multi-billion-dollar IP, and the economics never made sense."

Houser also says that "in those days, the perception was that games made poor-quality movies," though he admits it's "a different time now," with big screen successes like the Super Mario Bros. Movie and streaming hits like Amazon Prime's Fallout TV Show.

Even now, I'd argue that GTA and Red Dead Redemption still gain very little from getting the live-action treatment. Both series were built off and frequently ape tropes from old Hollywood classics anyway, both have budgets big enough to look like blockbusters and make a film accountant sweat, and both are successful enough on their own. GTA 5 alone has sold over 200 million copies and stands as the most profitable entertainment product in any medium, and Red Dead Redemption 2 can still hold its head high with almost 64 million sales.

Rockstar Games upcoming open-worlder will probably do even better. Check out everything we know about GTA 6 while we wait for its 2025 release.

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.