With its Grand Theft Auto special The Gamechangers nearing its September 15th air date, BBC2 has released a teaser trailer just long enough to cover the one-off drama's premise. Daniel Radcliffe's Sam Houser — a co-founder of GTA developer Rockstar Games — is forced to defend the series from virulent attorney Jack Thompson (Bill Paxton), who rages against the game's violence and its impact on children. There's a weird nationalist bent to the teaser, one I didn't expect: Thompson is incensed about "what little regard these Brits have for the welfare of our children," making it sound like Grand Theft Auto was part of a covert British campaign to ruin a generation of American youth with video games.
The special is based on David Kushner's 2012 book Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto, which chronicled Houser and Thompson's prolonged legal battle in the wake of 2001's smash hit Grand Theft Auto III. Thompson's case against Houser was ultimately thrown out of court, and he was disbarred in Florida in 2008 for inappropriate conduct.
The movie has inspired its own share of legal drama
The Gamechangers has inspired its own share of legal drama during production. The special was jeopardized in late May when Take-Two Interactive — Rockstar's parent company — filed a trademark infringement suit against the network, which had proceeded with filming the special without Take-Two's stamp of approval. "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," said Take-Two in a statement to Polygon. (The BBC declined to comment.) Take-Two still hasn't authorized the special, but that obviously hasn't impeded the drama's path to screens worldwide.