We're less than three months away from the much-anticipated release of Sony's The Last of Us Part II, but fans of Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic video game franchise have something brand-new to look forward. HBO announced on Thursday that a live-action adaptation of The Last of Us is officially in the works.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed Thursday that HBO is developing the adaptation helmed by Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin and the video game's creative director Neil Druckmann. They'll be joined by executive producer Carolyn Strauss, who also worked on Chernobyl, along with Game of Thrones. Evan Wells, the president of Naughty Dog (the studio behind the game series), will serve as executive producer.
"The HBO series will cover the events of the original game, which was written by Druckmann, with the possibility of additional content based on the forthcoming game sequel, The Last of Us Part II," THR reports.
Given the pedigree of talent involved, this feels like a match made in heaven and a perfect fit.
The Last of Us is a heart-breaking, brutal third-person action-adventure game set years after a pandemic wipes out most of humanity, transforming many into zombie-like husks as the result of an infection originating with a mutated fungus. You play as Joel, an aging survivor who lost all hope after a traumatic event left him devastated. Now working as a miserable smuggler years after the outbreak, he's tasked with escorting a young girl out of a dangerous quarantine zone because she might hold the key to a potential cure.
Along the way, the unlikely duo confronts not only the terrifying monstrosities created by the virus but the wretched remnants of humanity that make you wonder which monsters are worse. The bleak story is intercut by tender, humane moments that inspire hope — a tremendous feat of narrative storytelling.
The Last of Us remains one of the most critically acclaimed video games of all time thanks to a brilliant story full of compelling, cinematic moments. The gameplay is similar to Naughty Dog's Uncharted series but the vibe is much more serious and bleak in a way that actually resembles HBO's Chernobyl miniseries.
Chernobyl is one of the best-rated television series of all time, chronicling the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in visceral, terrifying detail in a way that somehow feels post-apocalyptic despite recounting true events. As such, this really does feel like the perfect fit for all the creatives involved.
THR's report notes that the project will be a co-production with Sony Pictures Television in association with PlayStation Productions, noting that "it will be the first television series from PlayStation Productions," which obviously implies the existence of future productions based on PlayStation exclusive titles.
Maybe it has something to do with how closely the narrative themes, character arcs, and overall dynamics play out in Logan compared to The Last of Us, but we can't help but think that Hugh Jackman might be a perfect fit to play Joel in this series. "Ruthless old man with a heart of gold and a big ole beard" pretty much sums up Wolverine in Logan and Joel in The Last of Us. Jackman stars in Bad Education, a new film that debuts on HBO April 25, 2020. So there's at least an inkling that the actor already has some semblance of a professional relationship with HBO.
It's a longshot, but maybe we'll see Jackman play Joel in a few year's time?
The Last of Us Part II will be released May 29, 2020.