The Last of Us movie was announced several years ago, but it still hasn't released; it hasn't even entered production yet - so what's happening? After spending the bulk of the PlayStation 3 lifecycle releasing Uncharted games as well as the Jak and Dexter collection, Naughty Dog surprised everyone with the release of The Last of Us in 2013 - a post-apocalyptic survival horror game with action-adventure elements.
Naughty Dog didn't just create one of the most beloved games of the last console generation but they also set the stage for what single-player titles would have to compete against for several years. The Last of Us was an enormous critical and commercial success, and its story, which centered on the characters Joel and Ellie, captivated players around the world. So it's no wonder Sony Pictures wanted to adapt The Last of Us into a movie.
In March 2014, just a few months after The Last of Us released on the PS3, Sony announced that Screen Gems, a division of Sony Pictures, was working on a movie adaptation of The Last of Us, which would be written by game director and Naughty Dog VP Neil Druckmann and produced by iconic filmmaker Sam Raimi. That was almost five years ago, and The Last of Us movie is nowhere near being able to start production. So what happened?
- This Page: Naughty Dog Didn't Like The Story & Is Busy With Last Of Us 2
- Page 2: The Uncharted Movie & Could Last Of Us Still Happen?
Naughty Dog Couldn't Get The Story They Wanted
Single player and story-focused games like The Last of Us require compelling and emotional narratives in order to keep players engaged - and Druckmann is certainly an experienced writer who not only could bring The Last of Us' story to life once but twice. Since The Last of Us' story is told in a cinematic fashion, as has become the norm in the video game industry, a movie version of the game would need to be a direct adaptation. So that's what Druckmann did; the script he wrote for The Last of Us movie was a direct adaptation of the game, but it wasn't what he wanted in the end.
Speaking with 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg during a panel at DICE Summit 2018, Druckmann admitted that he didn't want the script he wrote for The Last of Us movie to be used. He had said: "...And even I worked on the script for The Last of Us film, which was a direct adaptation. And now, having some separation from it, I look back and [am] like, 'I don't want that movie to be made.'" Based on his comments, it certainly seems like Druckmann finished The Last of Us movie script quite some time ago but simply didn't want to see it turned into a movie, so it was never utilized.
The Last of Us 2 is Taking Priority
Two years after The Last of Us movie was announced, Druckmann was asked about the adaptation while promoting Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. This update came more than a year after Druckmann had already completed the second draft for The Last of Us' script and performed read-throughs with some actors. It seems sometime after those read-throughs, everyone involved with the movie wasn't completely satisfied with the script, so the adaptation fell into development hell. What's more, Druckmann and Screen Gems had little reason to fix the script's issues since Naughty Dog was busy working on The Last of Us 2.
Later that year, Sony PlayStation officially announced that The Last of Us 2 was in development, which means Naughty Dog and Druckmann's focus was entirely on developing the sequel to their hit game. Given the scale and ambition surrounding The Last of Us 2, especially the gameplay demo that was shown at E3 2018, it certainly looks like development on the sequel has taken the bulk of the studio's time. And with Druckmann acting as game director once again, there's no way he, or anyone else associated with Naughty Dog, would have the time to rewrite The Last of Us' script.