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Last of Us movie in "development hell"

Neil Druckmann says no progress on adaptation in a year and a half; Uncharted film also could be stalled

Despite this year's launches of feature film adaptations for World of Warcraft and Assassin's Creed, the number of games that start the journey to film and never finish it far exceed those that do. Naughty Dog may have a few of those to its name already, as Uncharted 4 director Neil Druckmann this week provided IGN with some less-than-encouraging updates for planned movies based on Uncharted and The Last of Us.

Of the two, Druckmann's comments suggest The Last of Us is the more troubled project.

"I know I said in an interview a while back we had a table read, got the script to a good place and it kind of entered development hell like these things tend to do," Druckmann said. "There hasn't been any work done on it in over a year and a half."

That said, having a good script in place could put it further along than the Uncharted film. Druckmann said the studio has been providing feedback on the Uncharted script, with an eye toward ensuring it gets the various characters' relationships right.

"That's where we're at," Druckmann said. "Last I heard is they got a new screenwriter, but we haven't seen anything in a while."

At the moment, Sony has the Uncharted film slated for release on June 30, 2017.

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Latest comments (13)

The real problem is that games have a relatively short window of uber-fame within which to release their movie. Every 6 months they miss this window by can mean a 10-15 % drop off from the peak interest in the game franchise... so a 2 year movie creation process from inception to completion can already see the potential audience halved by time of release. Oh yes and also the slight issue that in almost every case it is the first movie they have ever made so the whole writing, production, financing and publication process is fraught with mistakes from beginning to end
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 5 years ago
Jon, learn what an adaptation is.

(Why is that game people put minor things like schedules and budgets at the top of priority, when the true top-priority is whether the product is any good or not?)

How long did it take to adapt Lord of the Rings to film? Decades.

Don't worry about it.
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Tudor Nita Lead Programmer, Gameloft Romania5 years ago
Tim, that seems like a skewed analogy. LOTR, the book, had a mass-following long before the movies. The varied demographic probably helped as well. Compared to that, even the most revered cult classic game only has a handful of "fans" [and most of them part of a very restrictive niche]. Games are ephemeral entertainment when compared to literature.

Hence, from a financial pov, timing, imho is the second most important part for this, behind marketing and preceding quality.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Tudor Nita on 5th April 2016 6:13pm

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Show all comments (13)
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Hmmm. Why make movies of games that are already great storytelling exercises in the first place (and more fun because they're playable)? I prefer my interactive entertainment just that way as opposed to letting my arteries harden in a movie theater seat for two hours just so I can complain about continuity errors later over coffee and pie.

Ah well. I guess non-gamers who want to see this world and characters will line up as will the more rabid fans who can't get enough of both franchises. Of course, I'm the fool who said no one would pay much attention to watching people play games online and I had the biggest slice of crow pie ever after that prediction went south.
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Ryan Schneider Director of Brand Development, Insomniac Games5 years ago
"Despite this year's launches of feature film adaptations for World of Warcraft and Assassin's Creed..." Hey, what about Ratchet & Clank? (Yes, I'm biased haha.)
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Axel Cushing Freelance Writer 5 years ago
@Greg
In a perfect world, movies based on games would be analogous to the Reader's Digest condensed version of a best selling novel. You know they've cut stuff out, but if you do it right, you get the core story told in a way that convinces people to go get the full book.

In the world we live in, regrettably, we have Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo hiding in a trailer trying to drink away their shame. We have Uwe Boll committing tax fraud in Germany while torpedoing the careers of actors and actresses he snookered into working for him. We have Milla Jovovich and P.T. Anderson milking a franchise so hard you wonder if they're trying to create a meta-narrative on the absurdity of zombie movies.

But we can always hope to move closer to that ideal world...
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 5 years ago
So Mark Boal's gone as well? David Russell, Neil Burger, the Wibberleys... this film is going through writers like skin-contact laxative on a dictionary and it seems weird. I wonder what's going on at Sony? Maybe they're asking for that "Barton Fink feeling"? Or are those writing for Uncharted just not getting the same vision as those in charge of the commission?

I'm kind of tempted to try and write a script for it, just a personal one for practice and fun - I've never done a script for a full-length movie so it'll be exciting!
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
@Bonnie: That Barton Fink reference just got you a mysterious box to open. It's on a beach somewhere and has a bunch of sand all over it. But there's probably some treasure in it or something...
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development5 years ago
I'm just waiting for the game to the movie of the game!
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Axel Cushing Freelance Writer 5 years ago
@Bonnie
Go for it. Heck, if William Gibson can write a screenplay for Alien III which still floats around the Internet (and still would have been a superior movie, I think), there's nothing to stop you. I'm still playing around with a script for Mordheim. It'll probably never get made, but I like working on it for grins.
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Sandy Lobban Founder, Noise Me Up5 years ago
If you can have angry birds soft toys, you can have an uncharted movie, IMO. It should just be a modern Indiana Jones
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
Yes, the setting of Uncharted and Tomb Raider games is akin to Indiana Jones. But the gameplay is Die Hard on steroids. Any movie just cloning the Indy part will feel lackluster. Any script that touches on too much Die Hard will enter development hell. The simple equation being that these days you need superheroes to sell impossible fights to an audience, not Stallone, Willis, or Schwarzenegger. With neither Drake nor Lara being superheroes, the best they can hope for is a watered down family adventure movie. I say *yuck* to that..

As for The Last of Us, what movie is that even supposed to be. The melancholic adventures of strange kid and zombie stealth murder man? As a game, sure, brilliant, as a movie, wtf! Or is the movie supposed to be that strange underground thing like John Dies at the End?
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Axel Cushing Freelance Writer 5 years ago
@Klaus
If we were in a meeting with a pack of studio execs, the high concept pitch would be, "Think The Road meets The Walking Dead!"
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