After kicking off a development phase spearheaded by series creator Neil Druckmann and Chernobyl showrunner Craig Mazin, it seems HBO likes what it's seeing with the television adaptation of The Last of Us. Today, The Hollywood Reporter confirms that HBO has picked up the show for a series order, meaning the network's carved out a spot for Joel and Ellie in their future schedule and are actively planning to produce and release the show.
That's a hurdle the project was likely to clear when its development was first announced back in March, but any number of things (from the COVID-19 pandemic to the potential for a poor reception to The Last of Us Part 2) could've thrown things off the rails. Instead, work with Druckmann, Mazin, HBO, and Sony's PlayStation Productions will continue as-planned.
In a statement from PlayStation Productions head Asad Qizilbash and Sony Pictures TV Studios president Jeff Frost, the pair say they "look forward to developing even more iconic game IP in the future." PlayStation Productions, which was founded for the purpose of turning Sony's gaming franchises into film and TV productions, is also attached to the Uncharted movie starring Tom Holland.
As for casting, there's no news yet. We know that the series plans to cover and expand upon the events of the first Last of Us game, so finding the right actors for Joel and Ellie will be paramount. Broadly speaking, it looks like Druckmann and Mazin are aiming to go deeper with those two, rather than shifting focus to some other relationship or following other survivors in the same universe. Then again, after seeing the direction taken with The Last of Us Part 2, I wouldn't be surprised if the TV adaptation ends up occasionally shifting perspectives and layering in lots of flashbacks.
Another thing we know is that Mazin intends to use at least one idea that Druckmann and Naughty Dog cut from the original game, a "jaw drop" moment that he says he can't resist adding. "You will have to shoot me to stop me from doing that," Mazin teased in reference to the idea.
It'll certainly be interesting to see the final product, as hewing that close to the source material is an approach seldom taken with live action video game adaptations. We know the Showtime Halo series is set to diverge from franchise canon in some intriguing ways, and Fallout's adherence to player-created leads means there's a chance to build a brand new character out of a Vault Dweller/Courier/Sole Survivor on Amazon's in-development show. There are lots of people who're quite fond of the way Joel and Ellie are depicted in the games, and that makes for an easy thing to mess up.