‘Gran Turismo’: Gamer Becomes a Real-Life Racer in CinemaCon Trailer

Director Neill Blomkamp tells the true story of Jann Mardenborough, who went from racing in video games to racing in Dubai

Gran Turismo
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Sony’s quest to turn its hit Playstation games into hit movies and TV shows will continue with “Gran Turismo,” the upcoming Columbia Pictures film from “District 9” director Neill Blomkamp that is based both on a true story and the best-selling racing video game series.

The film will tell the story of Jann Mardenborough (played by “Midsommar” star Archie Madekwe), a British teenager who in 2011 entered GT Academy, an esports tournament created to find “Gran Turismo” players who were good enough at the game to be able to competitively drive real-life race cars. Mardenborough was victorious in the GT Academy competition and became a race car driver for Nissan, competing in the Dubai 24 Hour endurance race.

In the trailer shown at CinemaCon, we see Jann arriving with other GT Academy contestants and being put through the wringer by racing trainer Jack Salter (David Harbour) who puts them through a rigorous boot camp to get them in shape. It’s one thing to know how to hit every corner on a world-class race track and to overtake in a simulation of a Nissan GT-R LM, but as Jann finds out, it’s hard to do it when the g-forces and hot temperatures of an actual race car are bearing down on you.

“If you miss a racing line in a game you can reset,” warns Jack. “If you miss it in a real race, you could die.”

“Gran Turismo” is one of several projects developed by Playstation Productions, which made its big screen debut last year with an adaptation of the Naughty Dog adventure game series “Uncharted” starring Tom Holland. The studio is also developing film adaptations of the post-apocalyptic action game “Days Gone” and the samurai adventure game “Ghost of Tsushima.”

But the biggest hit from Playstation Productions is unquestionably the HBO series “The Last of Us,” which has become as acclaimed as the video game series it is based on and is expected to be a major contender when Emmy nominations are announced this summer.