Sony’s push to create a formal film and TV studio based on its massive video game properties has finally borne official fruit. One year after its formation, PlayStation Productions has announced its first confirmed project: an HBO-exclusive, live-action TV series based on the acclaimed 2013 game The Last of Us.
Thursday’s news, which HBO confirmed to Ars Technica via a press release, confirms that TLoU creative director and writer Neil Druckmann has been named as the TV series’ co-writer and executive producer. While that’s normally a novel thing in games-to-screen adaptations, Druckmann had already announced intentions to do this kind of thing previously, when he had teamed with Sam Raimi to turn the game into a feature-length film. HBO’s announcement did not mention when or how that film project, which began life in 2014, eventually fizzled.
This time, Druckmann will be joined in his co-writer and executive production duties by a pretty big name in HBO TV series: Craig Mazin, the creator of 2019 miniseries Chernobyl.
The press release focused squarely on Mazin and Druckmann coming together to collaborate, with Mazin making clear how stoked he is about the project. “Getting a chance to adapt this breathtaking work of art has been a dream of mine for years,” he said. As a very early announcement, the press release did not include a timeline estimate for production or any casting decisions.
Even so, it does clarify what game-related content we might expect. Sony representatives write that 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.” That vague statement, which HBO and Sony did not clarify any further, hints to a wait-and-see approach about a second season of the series continuing the story of main game character Ellie as she ages. The game sequel sees Ellie appear five years after the events of the first game, and that time difference might be tricky to juggle for the same teen actor in a TV series with a “flashback” gimmick.
While Sony’s PlayStation Productions arm had announced intentions to work on various films and series in the past, today’s HBO news gave them an opportunity to reaffirm that TLoU will not be a one-off project. “This is the first of many shows we intend to develop with our friends at PlayStation Productions,” Chris Parnell, co-president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, said in today’s press release. That statement didn’t clarify whether fans should expect additional collaborations with HBO.
The news follows a busy few years for successful translations of beloved game series into live-action TV and film projects. 2019 was a big year for the burgeoning trend, thanks to the critically acclaimed combo of a Detective Pikachu film and a Witcher TV series. We’re surprised to see TLoU take the spotlight as PlayStation Productions’ first formally announced project, however, especially since there’s apparently another major project in the works: a live-action Uncharted film. Maybe the lack of official buzz about the latter is for a good reason. In January, Sony pushed that film’s launch date from December 2020 to March 2021, and this week, its production crew was still finalizing casting decisions.