the last of us movie

Of all the video games that hang out on the horizon and constantly promise to arrive and break the dreaded “video game movie curse” by actually being, you know, good, Uncharted and The Last of Us loom the largest. That’s no coincidence, as both games are the work of Naughty Dog, a developer that has always shown a keen interest in creating fascinating characters and telling terrific stories alongside their reliably strong gameplay.

We’ve covered the dramatic ups and downs of the Uncharted movie for years now, but The Last of Us (a serious-minded post-apocalyptic tale that plays like The Walking Dead with a conscience) has remained largely in the shadows since it was announced back in 2014. The handful of updates we have been given haven’t been especially hopeful…and the latest update doesn’t break that trend.

IGN caught up with Sam Raimi, who has been attached to The Last of Us a producer since the project was first unveiled. And while that title implies some degree of control over the project, Raimi says that the project has completely stalled due to circumstances beyond his control. Namely, screenwriter and producer Neil Druckmann (who was also the creative director on the video game) hasn’t been seeing eye-to-eye with the studio. Raimi’s full statement on the matter is diplomatic:

Well, unfortunately that one – when we went to Neil with Ghost House Pictures we were hoping to get the rights like we do any project and then we’d take it out and sell it but we’d control the rights. With this one he went to Sony – who I have a very good relationship with – but they have their own plans for it and I think Neil’s plan for it – I’m not trying to be political – Neil’s plan for it is not the same as Sony’s. And because my company doesn’t have the rights, I actually can’t help him too much. Even though I’m one of the producers on it the way he set it up, he sold his rights to Sony, Sony hired me as a producer by chance, and I can’t get the rights free for him so I’m not in the driver’s seat and I can’t tell you what Sony and Neil together will decide on. If they do move forward I’d love to help them again.

Raimi elaborated further, saying that he’s still attached to the film as a producer but that it’s “not his place” to explain any further details about why Druckmann and Sony are butting heads.

The Last of Us is one of the best video games I’ve ever played and its characters and storytelling could translate beautifully to the big screen. So yes, I’d love to see a film version, especially one created with care and craft by the right team. So, in a weird, off-kilter, possibly wrongheaded way, the fact that the movie is stalled because Druckmann and the studio don’t agree on what the movie should be feels like a good thing. Someone in that equation is probably fighting to maintain the integrity of the game. An unmade movie would be preferable to one that waters down and cheapens everything that makes the original story so compelling.

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