Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive, the companies behind the most successful video game series of the last decade, Grand Theft Auto, have filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the BBC.
The BBC is developing a film based on the legendary Houser brothers, Dan and Sam, which will cover the years spent developing the games and the subsequent controversy the series has attracted. The movie will focus on the real-life conflict between Sam Houser and US lawyer and activist Jack Thompson who repeatedly attacked the series for inspiring violence in the real world.
Rockstar Games issued the following statement to IGN:
Take-Two Interactive has filed suit against the BBC for trademark infringement based on their movie currently titled Game Changer as it relates to Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto video game series.
While holders of the trademarks referenced in the film title and its promotion, Rockstar Games has had no involvement with this project. 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."
Grand Theft Auto, despite its success (GTA V scored the highest entertainment debut ever, grossing $1 billion in its first three days) has become an unusually controversial brand. It has been banned in several countries and has been harshly criticized for its depiction or violence, torture, bad language and its general aura of anarchic mayhem.
Behind-the-scenes dramas, however, have always been mined for their dramatic possibilities. The Social Network and Black Swan garnered mass acclaim as did last year's Best Picture Oscar winner Birdman. Danny Boyle's upcoming Steve Jobs biopic will take it a step further, focusing on the backstage tension of three of Apple's most famous keynotes, all in real time.
Game Changer is set to star Daniel Radcliffe as Sam Houser and Bill Paxton as Thompson and will be directed by Owen Harris for broadcast on BBC2 later this year. The film is currently in production.