Daniel Radcliffe starred in a BBC special about the making of blockbuster video game franchise Grand Theft Auto. The former Harry Potter star plays Sam Houser, co-founder of Rockstar Games.
The special, called “The Gamechangers,” aired in BBC on September 15. Rockstar Games, who was not involved in the project, responded unfavorably to the movie, sending a sour tweet to the BBC, “Was Basil Brush busy? What exactly is this random, made up bollocks?”
The company even filed a case against BBC during the film’s production last May, citing copyright infringement on the game series. According to The Guardian, Rockstar Games spoke on the matter stating, “Our goal is to ensure that our trademarks are not misused in the BBC’s pursuit of an unofficial depiction of purported events related to Rockstar Games. We have attempted multiple times to resolve this matter with the BBC without any meaningful resolution. It is our obligation to protect our intellectual property and unfortunately in this case litigation was necessary.” Meanwhile, BBC did not want to comment on “legal matters.”
The 90-minute film was based on a book by David Kushner entitled Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. First released in 1997, Grand Theft Auto received massive attention worldwide after its release of Grand Theft Auto III the premiere 3D game in the franchise. The film explores the development of the GTA series Houser’s conflicts with anti-gaming activists, especially ex-attorney Jack Thompson (played by Bill Paxton), who protested against the violence and obscenity in depicted in video games. Thompson also blamed the game for school shootings and acts of violence.
In 2003, Thompson charged Sony Computer Entertainment America and retailer Wal-Mart $246 million for having inspired two teenagers (and GTA players) to go on a shooting spree, taking the lives of two people. The case was dropped, but Thompson was still involved in anti-video game activism, fighting Rockstar Games (for titles “Bully” and “Manhunt”) and Midway Games (creator of the “Mortal Kombat” series). Due to inappropriate court behavior, Thompson was permanently disbarred from court.