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‘Grand Theft Hamlet’: Altitude Boards SXSW Doc About Actors Who Staged Hamlet Production Inside ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Video Game

EXCLUSIVE: Altitude Media Group has boarded a documentary shot entirely inside the Grand Theft Auto video game world.

Grand Theft Hamlet will follow the story of out-of-work theater actors Sam Crane and Mark Oosterveen, who had the idea to stage a full production of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ within Grand Theft Auto 5 during the dull days of the third Covid-19 lockdown in the UK three years ago.

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Indie studio Altitude has taken worldwide rights after striking a deal for the “hilarious and profoundly moving” film, which Crane and Pinny Grylls wrote and directed. The doc gets its worldwide premiere at SXSW on Sunday (March 10) and will get a European premiere at CPH:DOX.

“We are extremely proud and excited to be partnering with Pinny, Sam and the whole team on Grand Theft Hamlet and cannot wait for audiences to experience this singular and masterful piece of machinima filmmaking,” said Altitude Film Sales Managing Director Mike Runagall. “Grand Theft Hamlet is like nothing you have seen before.”

The full synopsis for the film reads: “January 2021. The UK is in its third lockdown and all entertainment venues remain closed. For theatre actors Sam and Mark, the future looks bleak. As the pandemic drags on, Mark — single and childless — is increasingly socially isolated, while Sam panics about how he is going to support his young family. They spend their days in the online digital world of Grand Theft Auto and when they stumble across a theater, they suddenly have an idea to stage a full production of Hamlet within the game. This film charts their ridiculous, hilarious and moving adventure as they battle violent griefers and discover surprising truths about life, friendship and the enduring power of Shakespeare.”

Julia Ton’s Project 1961 and Rebecca Wolff and Dean Puckett’s Grasp the Nettle Films are producing out of the UK in association with Park Pictures, which has offices in New York and London. Ton and Wolff are producing and Jamie Perera is the composer. Exec producers are Eric Kuhn, Beth Levison, Sam Bisbee, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Cody Ryder, Will Clarke, Andy Mayson, Mike Runagall, Sam Crane, Harlene Freezer, Hannah Bush Bailey and Shanida Scotland.

British doc maker and ethnographer Grylls (Peter and Ben) is making her feature-length directorial debut. Grylls, who is deaf/hard of hearing, has a debut fiction feature, Hear My Voice, in development with the BFI.

Crane is a video artist, filmmaker and actor, who has played critically acclaimed roles in the West End and on Broadway in productions such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Farinelli and the King opposite Mark Rylance and 1984.

For Altitude, the doc joins a current slate including Guy Jenkins’ historical comedy drama Fools starring Karen Gillan, Patsy Ferran, Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent; an untitled feature-length Blur documentary and accompanying concert film, Blur: Live at Wembley Stadium; Brett Donowho’s Zipline; and Martin Scorsese’s Made in England: The Films of Powell & Pressburger, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. Forthcoming releases include Matteo Garrone’s Oscar-nominated Venice Film Festival winner Io Capitano and Sundance title Radical.

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