Friday, September 23, 2005
Rockstar Games Inc., the video game maker behind the controversial Grand Theft Auto series, is working on a documentary that won't be found in theaters or on DVD shelves this fall. The movie, an inside look at the struggles of a lowrider car club in Los Angeles, will make its debut on Sony's mobile game device, the PlayStation Portable.
While many Hollywood studios offer their films on the device's Universal Media Disc format, the movie -- called "Sunday Driver" -- is the first to make its premiere on the proprietary UMD format.
Scheduled for an October release, "Sunday Driver" is being touted as "an evolution of the Rockstar brand into film," Rockstar Games President Sam Houser said in a written statement.
The PSP has been marketed by Sony as a competitor to Nintendo's popular GameBoy line, but the flexible device also can play digital music files or display movies on its 4.3-inch screen.
On the eve of the PSP's March release, analysts were skeptical that people would want to watch movies on such a small display. Since then, many studios -- including Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Home Entertainment Inc. -- have released movies in the UMD format.
So far, the number of video titles available for the PSP has outpaced the number of game titles. There are about 40 PSP games available, compared with 145 video titles. Sony spokesman Patrick Seybold said five or six video titles have sold more than 100,000 copies each. Sony has sold more than 2 million PSPs worldwide, he said.
Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities, said that the movie will attract a "nice intersection of people who know who Rockstar is and people who own a PSP" but that he doubted that it would be a commercial success.
Pachter characterized the venture as a vanity production by a company that has gotten wealthy from Grand Theft Auto.
The PSP has yet to score a runaway game hit. But many think the player's first major success may come when Rockstar, whose games often have been saturated with references to gangster movies and TV shows, releases the latest in the Grand Theft Auto game series, titled Liberty City Stories, next month on the PSP.
Rockstar's most recent hit game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, was pulled off retail shelves this summer when players uncovered a hidden mini-game containing explicit sexual content. A cleaned-up version of the game is due in stores soon, the company has said.