Gran Turismo film previewed at CES and August release date confirmed

Based on a true story — yes, really

Sony has released a teaser video of its upcoming Gran Turismo film based on the long-running PlayStation series of video games.

The preview was aired at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas with appearances in the trailer by three of the film’s stars, Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean; The Lord of the Rings), Archie Madekwe (Midsommar) and David Harbour (Stranger Things; Black Widow).

Directed by South African Neill Blomkamp (District 9), the preview features a diverse array of cars from a slew of Nissan GT-Rs to McLarens, Lamborghinis and high-end endurance racers.

The trailer opens with Gran Turismos characteristic pre-race chimes — something sure to appeal to devotees — with some of the forward-facing chase camera and in-car angles clearly drawn from the now 26-year-old game series; the film appears to consist of a combination of real-life and in-game racing.

“The audience is going to feel every jolt, every thrill of this racing at 200mph,” promised Bloom, along with “body-vibrating sound”.

At the film’s preview, the director said that the use of Sony’s Rialto camera extension system, which allows the main body of the camera to be located up to 12 metres away from the lens and sensor, allowed the crew to shoot in tight spaces such as the cockpit of the endurance racing cars seen in the trailer.

A film adaptation of the Gran Turismo video game had been touted as far back as 2013, although the project appears to have been in production hell for the best part of a decade before it was finally green-lit last year; shooting began in November 2022 and wrapped in December.

While the plot-less Gran Turismo series may seem like an odd choice for the film adaptation, Blomkamp’s film doesn’t take place within the world of Gran Turismo, but rather is a real-life story of a young English racing driver catapulted into the big-time by the Gran Turismo Academy e-sports initiative.

Gran Turismo film previewed at CES and August release date confirmed

It’s the story of Jann Mardenborough, a real-life racer who got his big break after winning in the GT Academy e-sports series in 2011. The Darlington-born youngster is then offered a drive with Nissan in the Dubai 24 Hour endurance race.

Mardenborough (played by Madekwe) has since gone on to forge a moderately successful career as a journeyman racer, driving in the British GT Championship, various formula racing series including the FIA European Formula 3 Championship and British Formula 3 Championship, as well as in GT3 disciplines.

Playing Mardenborough’s father — the former professional footballer Steve Mardenborough — is the veteran actor Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond; Captain Marvel) with Geri Horner, the former Spice Girl, as his mother.

Speaking in a separate video shown at the Gran Turismo presentation, the series creator Kazunori Yamauchi gave his thoughts on the film.

“Gran Turismo in its 25-year history has become a decent brand in the automobile or video game industry. But by becoming a movie, a brand called Gran Turismo that only [the] automobile industry knew will be known to the general public as well.”

Gran Turismo the movie is due for cinema release on August 11, 2023. 

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