What Still Remains, a post-apocalyptic film streaming on Netflix since August 2018, has recently been called out for copying promotional materials from The Last of Us, the iconic PlayStation game. A poster for the movie uncannily resembles one for the game, whose release predated that of What Still Remains by more than five years.
The Last of Us is no stranger to the ups-and-downs of film development. In 2014, news broke that the game would receive a movie adaptation written by Neil Druckmann, vice president of Naughty Dog and creative director of The Last of Us. But the film has languished in development hell since - in 2016, producer Sam Raimi described it as being stuck in "a standstill"; and in February 2018, Druckmann said that he hopes The Last of Us movie is never made in its current form.
In lieu of a proper The Last of Us movie, there's been a lot of imitators - and many more who have co-opted its iconography. The latest to be called out is What Still Remains, a post-apocalypse movie currently available on Netflix (although not a Netflix Original as some have reported). The movie and the game share relatively similar plots about people trying to survive following apocalyptic pandemics - though the protagonists in the film are a brother and sister, compared to the game's paternal-like relationship between Joel and Ellie - but the posters have proved too alike for comfort. Last week, Twitter user Rob Trench posted about the two posters, eliciting a reaction from none other than Druckmann himself, who handled the situation with humor.
Hold on... is this for real? 😂 https://t.co/pXsl8sO6Ba— Neil Druckmann (@Neil_Druckmann) January 6, 2019
Nowadays, Druckmann's busy at work on The Last of Us 2, the highly anticipated follow-up that was revealed in December 2016. The years since have been filled with a slow trickle of details about the game, though it's still unclear if Ellie will be the game's sole playable character. Its release date is similarly unconfirmed, but there's a chance that it'll come out sometime 2019.
As for the posters, it's worth noting that The Last of Us did not invent marketing depicting two family members in a post-apocalyptic world; John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road came out way back in 2009. That said, the copy-job of What Still Remains is still particularly egregious because it doesn't just lift the idea of two people standing around - it even mimics the arrangement of the background behind them. Of course, this is a common trick for lower-budget and home video releases, using familiar iconography to subconsciously engage an otherwise disinterested audience.
If anything, this hubbub can serve to remind fans of how distinct The Last of Us was and remains. It took a not-entirely-original premise and created something remarkably unique out of it - and that accomplishment can't be copied onto a poster.