If there’s one surefire way to drum up interest in a movie or documentary, try using the court system to have the entire project scrapped. In an obvious lesson that many companies are still learning the hard way, most efforts to prevent a film from being seen will only serve to increase awareness and overall viewership down the line.
So it goes with BBC’s Grand Theft Auto docudrama dubbed The Gamechangers. Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar Games president Sam Houser, The Gamechangers chronicles development studio’s battles with the litigious (and since disbarred) Jack Thompson over video game violence.
Back in the 2006, Thompson filed suit against Rockstar Games after a teenager killed his father, stepmother, and stepsister. Thompson alleged that the killings were inspired by the teenager’s obsessive playing of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. “If it wasn’t for Grand Theft Auto, three people might not now be dead,” Thompson’s lawsuit read in part.
A few years earlier, Thompson had filed a similar suit against Rockstar Games after a 16-year old charged with murder told investigators that he was obsessed with Grand Theft Auto III.
The Gamechangers chronicles these legal battles which, we should note, were ultimately tossed out of court.
That notwithstanding, Rockstar’s parent company — Take-Two Interactive — tried to halt the release of the film alleging trademark infringement.
In a statement issued to the press this past May, Take-Two Interactive explained:
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.”
In any event, the trailer for the film that Rockstar didn’t want you to see went live earlier today. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. It’s set to premiere on the BBC on September 15.