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Dan Houser: The risk of a Grand Theft Auto movie 'never made sense'

The former Rockstar boss explains his plan for Absurd Ventures

Former Rockstar Games head writer and co-founder Dan Houser says that the economics behind a Grand Theft Auto movie "never made sense."

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with The Ankler (subscription required), the former Rockstar leader discussed the state of Hollywood and his new company's efforts to develop new IP that could eventually turn into blockbuster movies and games.

Houser told the publication that there were numerous conversations about turning Rockstar's games, such as GTA and Red Dead Redemption, into a movie.

He said: “After a few awkward dates, we’d ask [the executives], why would we do this?”

And those execs would reply that it would be an opportunity to make a movie, which Houser would respond with: "no, 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. The risk never made sense. In those days, the perception was that games made poor-quality movies.”

However, Houser said "it's a different time now", which has led to the formation of Absurd Ventures.

The idea of Absurd Ventures, which also includes former Rockstar leaders Lazlow Jones and Mike Unsworth, is to build potentially major franchises via cheaper formats, such as audiobooks and graphic novels.

The firm's first project is the 12-part audio project A Better Paradise, which kicked off earlier this month and stars the likes of Andrew Lincoln and Paterson Joseph. Its second project is called American Caper, which will begin as a crime and political graphic novel. A third project will be 'lighter and more comedic', but little else was shared.

“If one of [these projects] just stops at the graphic novel or audiobook point, but it's still good and made with integrity, that's fine,” he said. “The end goal is always, always to make cool shit, make the next thing as good as it can be. It's only worth doing each bit if it doesn't feel like marketing.”

Of course, the view is that some of these will eventually lead into a video game project that can cross between interactive and linear entertainment.

"Part of why we’re doing the company this way is our belief that [gaming and traditional entertainment] are going to continue to meld and cross-pollinate,” he said. “The question is, can our business model and theirs collaborate?"

You can read more from Houser through here. (Subscription required)

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Christopher Dring avatar
Christopher Dring: Chris is a 17-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who
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