Naughty Dog’s emotionally-charged post-apocalyptic action game The Last of Us felt a lot like playing through a movie – or at the very least an HBO DVD box set – and so it’s perhaps no surprise that The Last of Us is getting a movie adaptation, with game director Neil Druckmann penning the script.
Just because a studio makes a video game adaptation, however, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a direct adaptation of a video game. In fact, Ubisoft Motion Pictures CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet has said that none of the studio’s upcoming movies – which include Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs and Far Cry – will retell stories that were already told, but will instead be original tales that take place in the same universe as the games.
Joel and Ellie, the protagonists of The Last of Us, aren’t actually the last people on Earth, despite what the title suggests. The video game is set in a broken-down, overgrown vision of America twenty years after a devastating viral outbreak, and as such there are many different stories that could be set within the same world. Speaking to IGN at the BAFTA Game Awards last night (where The Last of Us finished very much on top with five awards, including Best Game, Best Story and Best Performer), Druckmann confirmed that the movie will stick with the same story as the video game.
“It’s an adaptation of the story of The Last of Us. As far as where we go and how we make it fit into a film, how it takes into account the unique properties of film… We’re not sure yet. We’re only just scratching the surface.”
The response to this news will likely be mixed. The Last of Us is such a cinematic game already that remaking it as a film almost seems redundant (there are actually playthroughs of the game edited down into movie versions, if you have four hours to spare). Since a sequel to The Last of Us is by no means guaranteed, it would have been interesting for Druckmann to explore a different corner of the game’s universe.
On the other hand, there is a lot of appeal in seeing video game stories and characters brought to life, which is why live-action trailers are often included in marketing materials for upcoming games. It’s also not uncommon for films to get remade only a couple of years after the original version was released, and for the remake to not only turn out well but also draw attention to the source material (Let the Right One In and Let Me In, for example).
Best of all, the lead-up to casting announcements means plenty of time for fantasy casting. Top picks from readers so far include Dylan McDermott or Gerard Butler for Joel, and either Ellen Page or Chloë Grace Moretz for Ellie (Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones was also a great suggestion). Troy Baker, the actor who voiced and mo-capped Joel for the video game, told IGN at the BAFTAs that he’d definitely be up for a role in the movie, even if it’s just as a hunter or a clicker.
We’ll keep you updated on The Last of Us as development continues