The Last of Us is set to land as a series on HBO soon, but the high-profile video game adaptation wasn’t always going to be a big-budget show. Originally, the revered PlayStation exclusive was optioned as the basis for a feature-length film. In 2014, Screen Gems, the company behind the semi-successful and long-running Resident Evil movie franchise, secured the rights to put The Last of Us on the big screen. They attached legendary horror maestro Sam Raimi to direct, and game creator Neil Druckmann even held a table read to rehearse an early script. Oddly enough, that movie never panned out, and Druckmann is now ready to say why.
In an interview with The New Yorker, the acclaimed video game director explained it was creative differences behind the scenes that ultimately lead to Screen Gems’ The Last of Us being canned. Druckmann claims he was only interested in adapting his story as a smaller indie tale, while Screen Gems and Sony instead wanted what he describes as “a particular kind of movie.” For Druckmann, the aesthetic touchstone to aim for was No Country For Old Men, while the studio wanted something more along the lines of World War Z, with massive set pieces where intimate storytelling should be. The final straw came when Druckmann began to fear a 15-hour video game could not accurately be condensed into a 2-hour film, causing the project to enter development hell.
While he says he respected Raimi as a creative, Druckmann did not trust the other executives involved. He clashed specifically with Carter Swan, the man in charge of I.P. expansion at Sony, who told him screenwriter Craig Mazin had also expressed concern over turning the game into a movie. Druckmann responded, “Wait, the ‘Chernobyl’ guy? Why can’t I meet with him?”, and the idea for a live-action series came soon after. It’s a decision most fans are probably thankful for.
The Last of Us debuts on HBO on January 15, 2023.
Source: The New Yorker