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Eminem was in demand after the release of his 2001 Marshall Mathers LP
Rockstar Games turned down the chance to launch a Grand Theft Auto movie starring Eminem, a new podcast claims.
Games industry veteran Kirk Ewing, a friend of GTA creators Sam and Dan Houser, says a Hollywood agent came to him with the deal.
He says the brothers were offered $5m for rights to a movie starring the rapper by Top Gun director Tony Scott.
But, Kirk tells BBC podcast Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game, Sam Houser told the agent they were “not interested”.
Kirk, whose game State of Emergency was released by Rockstar, says the Housers had been talking about a movie tie-in around the time GTA 3 took the world by storm.
Released in 2001 on Playstation 2, the pioneering title laid the groundwork for the rest of the series and the imitators that would follow.
In the same year, Eminem was flying high off the back of his record-breaking Marshall Mathers LP.
He had also just wrapped shooting on his starring role in 8 Mile – a semi-biographical film loosely based on his early steps into rap.
‘Are you interested?’
Kirk tells the podcast he tracked Sam Houser to a hotel, where the two stayed up late to discuss the possibility of making a GTA movie.
“I think at that point it was still in Sam’s mind that it might be something that he wanted to do,” Kirk says.
He says he was phoned at 04:00 by an LA producer with an offer.
Kirk recalls: “He said ‘Kirk we’ve got Eminem to star, and it’s a Tony Scott film – $5m on the nose. Are you interested?’
“And I phoned up Sam and I said ‘Listen to this. They want Eminem in the Grand Theft Auto movie and Tony Scott to direct’.
“And he said: ‘Not interested’.”
And that is the last time, as far as Kirk is aware, that either brother discussed GTA coming to the silver screen.
“They realised that the media franchise that they had was bigger than any movie that was going on at the time,” Kirk says.
GTA has gone on to become a cultural juggernaut and in 2018 was declared the most profitable entertainment product of all time.
That includes record-breaking movies like Avatar.
The studio finally confirmed this year that GTA VI was in development – and Rockstar’s suggested gamers could be playing it by 2024 or 2025.
It’s insisted a leak of early footage from the game in September won’t affect the long-term plans for the title.
Rockstar and its parent company Take Two Interactive haven’t responded to Newsbeat’s request for comment.
Although the world never saw a Grand Theft Auto movie, A-list stars have queued up to join the expansive voice cast of GTA3’s sequels.
Actors Samuel L Jackson and Ray Liotta and comedians Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle have appeared in different instalments of the series.
And Eminem has popped up on the game’s celebrated soundtrack – as a guest star on a Dr Dre track recorded for a GTA Online expansion pack.
Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game, fronted by the UK rapper and GTA fan, charts the history and controversies of the smash hit open-world series.