If ever there was a video game that begged to be turned into a film it would have to be ‘The Last of Us’. Ok there’s a few but ‘The Last of Us’ has the potential to be something truly special. One of the most cinematic, intense and emotional games ever made, it almost plays like you’re actually taking part in a CGI action drama horror film. The game itself was nothing less than a work of art, receiving several ‘Game of the Year’ awards from numerous publications, selling over 1.3 million units in its first week then going on to become one of the top ten grossing games of 2013. With seamless cut scenes, excellent scripting, superb acting, and some of the most unforgettable moments ever realized by a video game (remember that giraffe scene?) it was really just a matter of time before someone saw the dollars signs. No other game has had me so emotionally invested in the characters like ‘The Last of Us’ and it was the delicate balance of strategy, terror, emotion and epic scale that made it work so well as a game. The question is, can that mix be translated to the big screen? According to Screen Gems, Sony and Naughty Dog….yes it can.
In a rare move Neil Druckmann who wrote the script for the video game will now pen the script for the movie. Naughty Dog Co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra and Game Director Bruce Straley will all also contribute creatively to the film adaptation. Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper expressed his enthusiasm for the project:
“Screen Gems’ Brian Dukes and Eric Ling brought this game to my attention insisting we go after it, and when I saw the quality of the storytelling, I knew the audience for this project was far greater than just the gaming community and that Neil Druckmann must write the screenplay. I am thrilled that SCEA’s Riley Russell was able to get me in front of Neil and Evan Wells to plead my case. Sam and his team at Ghost House round out the perfect team to help realize Neil’s vision.”
Naughty Dog’s co-president Evan Wells said they fielded more than a few movie offers once it was clear the game was a critical and commercial hit, though it was Sam Raimi’s decades of experience in the genre that sealed the deal:
“Our partnership with Sam Raimi, Ghost House Pictures, and Screen Gems to develop a film based on ‘The Last of Us’ universe is a perfect fit. Since our game released last June, we’ve talked with many companies about making a film, but we couldn’t have found better partners who share our creative vision and high standards. We look forward to collaborating with Sam, his team, and Screen Gems, to make a movie that will thrill fans of ‘The Last of Us’ and general audiences worldwide.”
While all of this is positive news, keep in mind there are significant hurdles that need to be overcome. Many of the elements that made it such a great game need to be addressed such as, how to convey the tension that comes from just trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Watching someone play it on screen is hardly the same as playing one of the characters surrounded by a horde of hungry fungus-zombies with nothing but a plank of wood to save your tasty ass. There is also the question of who will play the lead characters and can they then find the same chemistry on screen that Ashley Johnson (Ellie) and Troy Baker (Joel) shared to make their dysfunctional relationship so believable.
Video game adaptations are a big risk and, as we’ve seen before, don’t always translate so well to the big screen. Hopefully keeping the creative development in-house will ensure that the film is true to the game. What are your thoughts on a ‘Last of Us’ movie? Do you think they can give it the justice it deserves?