Much is still unknown about HBO’s upcoming adaptation of the popular video game “The Last of Us,” including who is set to star and when it will actually be arriving on the network, but steady progress is being made toward answering those questions. The latest piece to fall into place is setting a director for the much-anticipated pilot.
Kantemir Balagov, helmer of last year’s historical drama “Beanpole,” has been tapped to direct the series. He’ll join screenwriter Craig Mazin, of “Chernobyl” fame, and executive producer Neil Druckmann.
The series will be a co-production with Sony Pictures Television. PlayStation Productions, Word Games, The Mighty Mint, and game developer Naughty Dog. Carolyn Strauss, Naughty Dog’s Evan Wells, and Playstation Productions’ Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan will also serve as executive producers.
The show’s plot looks to mimic that of the original video game. Twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed, Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey, as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.
It was announced back in June that John Renck, Mazin’s collaborator on “Chernobyl” would direct the series, but scheduling conflicts prohibited him from moving forward.
Balagov is a thought-provoking addition to the series. “Beanpole” is a dark drama about two women dealing with the aftermath of the siege of Lenigrad in 1945. How Mazin and crew see Balagov’s past work influencing this equally grim tale of survival will be top of mind until audiences can see for themselves.
“The Last of Us” video game was a critical and commercial success for Sony and Naughty Dog. The developer’s 2020 sequel, “The Last of Us Part II” was also a hit and sold over 4 million copies within its first weekend. “The Last of Us Part II” received glowing reviews from critics, while suffering some targeted backlash upon release, and IndieWire’s David Ehrlich lauded the game in June, writing that the sequel improved on the original classic in almost every way.
Other details about the series, including casting, a release date, and episode numbers, are still under wraps.