The Last of Us - Joel and Sarah

Creating a post-apocalyptic world full of fungus zombies is apparently an expensive endeavor. HBO’s The Last of Us has started production in Alberta, and according to the head of one the unions there, each of the 10 episodes will cost at least tens of millions of dollars.

HBO is clearly hoping that The Last of Us will fill that Game of Thrones hole in the premium channel’s lineup. It’s based on Naughty Dog’s popular video game of the same name and takes place in the near future. This near future, however, isn’t so great! Most people have been infected with a fungus that makes them zombie-like and most survivors live in militarized encampments.

the last of us tv series

It Takes A Lot of Money To Make An Apocalypse

HBO is sparing no expense in creating a decimated world full of fungus-infected humans, and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees 212 union president Damian Petti is talking about it. Petti told CTV News (via Comingsoon.net):

The Last of Us, which commences photography this week, is indeed a monster. It has five art directors and employs an army of hundreds of technicians. It has had six months of prep and shoots [in Alberta] for 12 months. I cannot confirm the official budget numbers but will say it is likely the largest project shooting in Canada. This project well exceeds the eight-figure per episode mark, so there is a multiplier effect on our economy in terms of its impact. There are hundreds of related businesses benefitting from the plethora of work.”

Given the expansiveness of the game, this giant budget isn’t too much of a surprise. HBO greenlit the entire series — which is showrun and co-written by Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin — and is clearly swinging big. The cast isn’t anything to sneeze at either — the show stars The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal as Joel Miller, a grizzled survivor who smuggles a young girl, Ellie, out of one of the broken world’s militarized “safe havens.” Speaking of Game of Thrones, Lady Mormont herself, Bella Ramsey, is playing Ellie. Other cast members include Gabriel Luna as Joel’s brother, Tommy, and Nico Parker as Joel’s young daughter, Sarah.

Game creator Neil Druckmann co-wrote the series and is also executive producing with Mazin. Other executive producers include Carolyn Strauss, Naughty Dog president Evan Wells, and PlayStation Productions’ Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan. Director Kantermir Balagov is also on board to direct the first episode.

No news yet on when the limited series will premiere on HBO.

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