The BBC’s controversial biopic covering a stage of Grand Theft Auto’s history, The Gamechangers, has gone to air, prompting scornful responses from various people within Rockstar and Take Two. Rockstar Games took to Twitter to call the film “random, made up bollocks.”
@BBC Was Basil Brush busy? What exactly is this random, made up bollocks?
— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) September 15, 2015
Basil Brush, by the way, is a puppet fox famous in the U.K. as a children’s television host.
As the screening wore on, more big names in the Grand Theft Auto franchise weighed in. BBC Newsbeat good-humoredly reported the reactions of Mike Dailly, one of the creators of GTA. Dailly was less than impressed with Gamechangers star Daniel Radcliffe, who plays GTA creator Sam Houser.
Come lets say what we're ALL thinking really about last night…… Where did Daniel Radcliffe find that beard? #TheGamechangers
— Mike Dailly™ (@mdf200) September 16, 2015
He was also critical of the factual accuracy of the BBC’s take on Grand Theft Auto’s development.
So I guess "Factual Drama" means… there was a true story, but we made one up. #TheGamechangers
— Mike Dailly™ (@mdf200) September 15, 2015
Needless to say, the Twitterverse enjoyed all this immensely, with many fans concurrently watching the film and the tweets, and egging on “the banter.”
Rockstar and the BBC have been at odds over this project from the very start, with Rockstar attempting to have the screening stopped and filing suit against the BBC for trademark infringement, according to Ars Technica. Grand Theft Auto’s developers and publishers have repeatedly emphasised that they have had no involvement with the project and that they wanted it scrapped.
To be fair to the BBC, the Houser brothers are notoriously media-shy, and without their co-operation there would have been a great deal that the writers would have had to extrapolate or, as Rockstar asserts, simply make up. Other viewers, however, were not so uniformly down on the drama. Fans of Grand Theft Auto were divided, but most agreed that the film was a big help in informing gaming novices and outsiders of the depth, complexity and vast magnitude of the gaming industry. Unfortunately, the show’s handling of the theme of violence in gaming raised the ire of many GTA fans, who interpreted the BBC’s classic aloofness as condemnation of gaming in general and GTA in particular.
The film covers that period in GTA’s history between the release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas, when the Grand Theft Auto franchise was famously embroiled in a legal battle with crusading lawyer Jack Thompson, played by Bill Paxton. Thompson took Rockstar to court claiming a link between GTA and a multiple murder in Fayette, Alabama. The years-long legal battle famously crashed and burned when Thompson was found guilty of multiple charges of misconduct and disbarred.
The BBC has not yet indicated whether they intend to screen The Gamechangers in the U.S.
[Picture via Getty Images/Jason Merritt]