Take-Two owns some of the biggest franchises in gaming, including Grand Theft Auto, but the company hasn’t done much in the way of bringing its franchises to TV and film over the years. CEO Strauss Zelnick has shed some more light on the reasons for this as part of Take-Two’s latest earnings briefing.
First, Zelnick said there is only a “relatively small opportunity” to actually make money on film and TV adaptations, which he said are “typically very challenged asset classes.” Zelnick noted that he has a personal familiarity with this because, prior to joining Take-Two, he was an executive at Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox, in addition to sitting on the board at CBS.
Zelnick said HBO’s The Last of Us and Universal’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie were rare examples of video games finding success with TV and film adaptations.
“And to point out two success as notable as they may be, belies the fact that there are many, many failures where money was lost,” he said. “So far, we’ve taken a very selective approach to licensing.”
Take-Two is shifting its stance somewhat in recent times, as it’s working with Lionsgate on a Borderlands movie and with Netflix on a BioShock film. Beyond those, Zelnick said, “We could see licensing in the future when there’s a creative imperative and an economic opportunity.”
Zelnick said Take-Two is wary of transmedia efforts because it is only licensing the rights to a particular game series, not actually producing it where the company could have more control.
“We’re not going to bet this company’s future or the value of our intellectual property based on someone else’s execution in another area of the entertainment business. So we’ll continue to be very selective indeed. Even if we did take a broad-based approach–in the absence of investing ourselves, the economic opportunity in the context of the much greater economic opportunity for our core business is limited,” Zelnick said.
The Borderlands movie features a star-studded cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart. It’s set for release in August 2024. The BioShock movie for Netflix, meanwhile, is much earlier in development, but we do know that the director of The Hunger Games is attached.
Grand Theft Auto is Take-Two’s biggest franchise, and many have wondered why a GTA movie hasn’t happened yet. As it happens, Eminem could have starred in a GTA movie directed by Ridley Scott, but it never came together. Film and TV executives have approached Take-Two over the years about making a GTA movie, but the company has always said no because it wants to have creative control.
There has never been an official GTA movie, but the BBC produced a film called Game Changer in which Daniel Radcliffe played Rockstar co-founder Sam Houser. Rockstar Games sued the BBC over the production.