Parents who said you’d never get anywhere playing video games obviously never met Gran Turismo star Jann Mardenborough. Or esports professionals. Or streamers. But mostly we’re talking about Mardenborough since he’s the subject of the upcoming Gran Turismo movie, directed by Neill Blomkamp.
Usually, when Hollywood makes a movie about a video game it’s a contorted version of what was better presented in an interactive format. Blomkamp’s film, since it’s set in reality and is about actually playing the game (as opposed to existing in the game’s own universe), looks like it’ll side-step the usual pitfalls. The film is about a person who just happens to play a specific video game.
Getting good at Gran Turismo
The film stars David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Djimon Hounsou, and Geri Halliwell Horner (the main adult cast), and Archie Madekwe as a young upstart who thinks he can make a living as a motorsport driver by playing racing games. This is a thing that actually happened — the Nissan GT Academy was a program to take the best virtual racers and stick them into actual cars on actual tracks. Jann Mardenborough is one of its success stories.
The film’s trailer makes it clear that the path from controller to high-end steering wheel was anything but easy. It’ also makes it clear that the motion picture will be filled with both Sony and Nissan product placement. It’s perhaps unavoidable when exploring a branded event but it’s hard to escape the impression that this will feel like an extremely glossed extended advertisement. Or, as we like to call them in 2023, a Marvel movie.
Gran Turismo will turn up in theatres in August this year, with an official launch date to be determined here in SA.