If there's one adjective that can be more appropriately applied to Naughty Dog games more than any other it's cinematic. That isn't to say the developer's titles are lacking in the gameplay department, only that their storytelling is of a very high quality.
That quality is so high, in fact, that it wouldn't be hard for Hollywood to adapt either of Naughty Dog's most recent franchises, Uncharted and The Last of Us, into successful films. And while Uncharted is already well on its way to becoming a major motion picture (or so we've heard), word has just broken that The Last of Us is now on a similar track.
As revealed by Deadline earlier today, Screen Gems (a subsidiary of Sony Pictures) will distribute and Sam Raimi's Ghost House will produce The Last of Us film, which will presumably translate Joel and Ellie's post-apocalyptic adventure from TV screen to big screen. Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper had this to say about the project:
“Screen Gems’ Brian Dukes and Eric Ling brought this game to my attention insisting we go after it, and when I saw the quality of the storytelling, I knew the audience for this project was far greater than just the gaming community and that Neil Druckmann must write the screenplay. I am thrilled that SCEA’s Riley Russell was able to get me in front of Neil and Evan Wells to plead my case. Sam and his team at Ghost House round out the perfect team to help realize Neil’s vision.”
However, as is becoming the trend with big budget video game adaptations, The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog is taking a hands-on approach with this forthcoming film. That starts with Last of Us Game Director Neil Druckmann, who has been announced as the film's screenwriter writer. If anyone were to know how to adapt the game it would be him.
Druckmann won't be alone in his task, though; he will have the support of fellow Last of Us Director Bruce Straley, as well as Naughty Dog Co-Presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra, who will all serve as "architects" on the picture. It's not as hands-on as, say, Electronic Arts is being with their Need for Speed film, or Ubisoft is with Assassin's Creed, but at the very least there are some people on-board who know the property and will work hard to do it justice.
It's best to keep your enthusiasm for a Last of Us movie tempered for now, though. It's been a few years since the film rights for Uncharted were scooped up, but not much traction has been made since then. At one point, director David O. Russell seemed ready to pull the trigger on an adaptation featuring Mark Wahlberg as Nathan Drake, but that idea fell apart rather quickly. And now it's stuck in limbo like many video game projects.
Putting Druckmann in charge of the script and letting Naughty Dog have a voice in the matter, however, should help this film move along, maybe even quicker than Uncharted. As well, this film might have an easier time with casting than Uncharted's endless Nathan Fillion fan campaigns. Just call up Ellen Page.
Do you want to see a The Last of Us movie? Who do you think should play Joel and Ellie? Who would you like to see direct?