Today we’ve learned that the rumours surrounding a Gran Turismo TV show are false. Instead, (to everybody’s surprise), the project has taken the form of a movie.
District 9’s Neill Blomkamp is eyed to direct Jason Hall’s screenplay of this unorthodox adaptation. It's also been announced that Stranger Things star David Harbour has been cast in the movie to play a major character in the film.
Of course it’s standard practice to adapt story-heavy titles into other mediums - just check our list of upcoming Sony TV shows for proof of that. However, the strange thing with Gran Turismo is that the story is completely absent. Many had speculated that it would be an unscripted show in the style of Top Gear, for example, but today a glimpse of the premise has been revealed.
According to Deadline, the idea behind the film is as follows:
“Based on a true story, the film is the ultimate wish fulfillment tale of a teenage Gran Turismo player whose gaming skills won a series of Nissan competitions to become an actual professional race car driver.”
Based on the logline, we’re looking at a take on a typical rags-to-riches, zero-to-hero underdog story. Clearly taking inspiration from the true story of Jann Mardenborough, who won the 2011 GT Academy competition and has since become a professional racer in the Super GT, Super Formula and Le Mans series of racers.
Jann had an interesting upbringing that will likely make the backbone of the movie. Born in Darlington, County Durham, Jann is the son of footballer Steve Mardenborough, who had 300 appearances across football leagues during his career. Jann spent most of his childhood in Cardiff, and before 2011, had never seriously competed in a motorsport. Then the GT Academy came along.
The GT Academy was a TV competition that ran from 2008 to 2016 and aimed to give talented Gran Turismo players a route into professional motorsport. Clearly championing how real the games’ simulated driving was, the idea was that the jump from handling a car in-game to racing one in real life wasn’t too great.
It’s interesting to see how a TV competition based on Gran Turismo lays the foundation of a movie adaptation of the same title.
In 2011, there was an American and a British version of the GT Academy show, and Jann won the British version respectively. Beating out 90,000 other competitors, he was a rising star that came seemingly from nowhere. Most other contestants had competed in similar events before, but not Jann - who just showed up and showed off his immediate talent and natural ability.
After winning the GT Academy, Jann went on to race in the British GT Championship, the GT3 Championship, and the Toyota Racing Series to name a few. He currently races for Nissan NISMO, and his most recent professional race was in the Super GT in 2020.
While his story could hold water by itself, there’s unfortunately not a lot of drama to make for a good Hollywood movie. No doubt the screenplay features exaggerations, dramatisations and new fabrications that up the stakes of the admittedly relaxed series of events.
While it is based on Jann Mardenborough’s career, the movie may feature a fictional character and set of events loosely tied to his achievements, instead of being a dramatised retelling of what actually happened.
Even though the movie is in early development, the release date has been set as August 11, 2023. A surprisingly close date for something that hasn’t started full production yet. For that reason, it will be unusual if this isn’t pushed back. A movie of this scale completing a full production in 14 months is an impressive feat - though not impossible if the studio hits no production woes. Unfortunately, that’s a rarity in the turbulent world of film. We will find out how realistic this date is early next year.
Even though the Uncharted movie was critically panned and was not enjoyed by most movie-goers, it still made a whopping $400 million in the global box office earlier this year. No doubt upon seeing this success Sony are now eager to push forward with as many productions as they can. All they have to do is licence out the rights to a trustworthy studio and then watch the profits roll in.
Video game movies aren’t what they used to be. Even though Uncharted wasn’t a strong show, recent adaptations like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 have been loved worldwide. Instead of being cash-grabs for the creators, these types of movies are now being made by the generation that grew up with them. There’s a level of care and passion that these creatives bring that just didn’t exist before.
There are currently a handful of productions being developed around Sony’s properties. From Ghost of Tsushima to Horizon Zero Dawn. For a full breakdown of what’s coming from the PlayStation company, check out our article detailing their grand ambitions here.
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