A long-gestating film based on PlayStation’s Gran Turismo series of racing games looks like it’s finally happening. Sony Pictures has announced a released date of Aug. 11, 2023 for the film, which is called simply Gran Turismo and is set to be directed by District 9’s Neill Blomkamp.
According to Deadline, Sony also supplied a new logline outlining the film’s plot: “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.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because a Gran Turismo film with this basis has been discussed before — nearly nine years ago. It was confirmed to be in development in 2013, and Gran Turismo game director Kazunori Yamauchi commented then that it would be based on the story of Lucas Ordonez, a Spanish driver who graduated from Gran Turismo and Nissan’s GT Academy competition to real-life racing at Le Mans and in GT series.
Indeed, Ordonez isn’t the only racer to follow this path. Brit Jann Mardenborough won GT Academy a few years after Ordonez, and went on to enjoy a longer racing career, ending up in the Super GT championship in Japan.
So, as corny as the plot may sound, it’s very credible, as the lines between virtual and real motorsport continue to blur. Turkish racer Cem Bolukbasi recently moved from Formula One’s esports series to a full season in F2, while F1 stars like Max Verstappen and Lando Norris are known as fierce competitors on iRacing.
If this movie has been languishing on Sony’s to-do list for so long, how come it finally has the momentum to get made? For one thing, the PlayStation Productions arm that is focused on turning Sony’s video game properties into films just had a decent-sized hit with Uncharted, and Sony will be keen to mine this seam further.
For another, motorsports movies are suddenly in vogue in Hollywood, after Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries dramatically raised awareness of F1, in the U.S. especially. Apple recently sealed a deal to produce a F1 movie starring Brad Pitt and directed by Top Gun: Maverick’s Joseph Kosinski. Meanwhile, Michael Mann has been able revive his passion project Ferrari, a biopic starring Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz. Sony is surely looking to join this trend with Gran Turismo.
This will be Blomkamp’s first video game adaptation — surprisingly, perhaps. The South African director is known to love video games, and in the 2000s was attached to make an ill-fated film adaptation of Halo, to be produced by Peter Jackson.