Craig Mazin, the creator of the acclaimed limited series Chernobyl, is reteaming with HBO to adapt the hit video game The Last of Us.
In a rare development in the world of video game adaptations, the writer and creative director of the game, Neil Druckmann, is also involved and will work with Mazin to pen and executive produce what is intended to be a series.
Carolyn Strauss will also executive produce along with Evan Wells, president of Naughty Dog, the Santa Monica-based developer of the game. The project is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television in association with PlayStation Productions. It will be the first television series from PlayStation Productions.
Sony and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, which bowed in 2013, garnered critical praise for its engrossing tale of the post-apocalypse, centering on the relationship between Joel, a smuggler in this new world, and Ellie, a teenager who may be key to a cure for a deadly pandemic. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle the 14-year-old girl out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey as they traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.
The HBO series will cover the events of the original game, which was written by Druckmann, with the possibility of additional content based on the forthcoming game sequel, The Last of Us Part II, which is set to released May 29.
“Neil Druckmann is without question the finest storyteller working in the video game medium, and The Last of Us is his magnum opus,” Mazin said Thursday in a statement. “Getting a chance to adapt this breathtaking work of art has been a dream of mine for years, and I’m so honored to do it in partnership with Neil.”
“From the first time I sat down to talk with Craig I was equally blown away by his approach to narrative and his love and deep understanding of The Last of Us,” said Druckmann. “With Chernobyl, Craig and HBO created a tense, harrowing, emotional masterpiece. I couldn’t think of better partners to bring the story of The Last of Us to life as a television show.”
The Last of Us won numerous “game of the year” awards and went on to sell more than 17 million copies across both its original release on the PlayStation 3 and a remastered version on PlayStation 4.
“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for us to partner with Craig, Neil, Carolyn and the teams at Sony, Naughty Dog and PlayStation to bring the virtual world of this acclaimed game to life,” said HBO programming president Casey Bloys.
“This is the first of many shows we intend to develop with our friends at PlayStation Productions,” said Chris Parnell, co-president of Sony Pictures Television Studios. “The Last of Us is a brilliant achievement in storytelling and character development, and we are lucky to have the opportunity to work with this team to adapt it.”
Druckmann is a longtime vet of Naughty Dog, having started as a programming intern in 2004. In 2007, he was given the role of game designer on Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, the first installment in the Uncharted action-adventure series. In 2013, Druckmann created The Last of Us, based on a concept he developed as a student at Carnegie Mellon University.
Mazin’s Chernobyl tackled a bleak and complex true-life event and became a must-see show for HBO. The effort won an Emmy for outstanding limited series as well as one for Mazin for outstanding writing. He also won a PGA Award and a WGA Award for Chernobyl.