While HBO has started showing off footage and trailers from The Last of Us, its mega-budget adaptation of the famed Naughty Dog video game, it has not given us an actual release date. Well, it could be on purpose, or could be an accident, but thanks to HBO itself, we now know when it’s going to premiere.
That would be January 15, 2023.
That’s according to the official HBO Max page, and I suppose this may be coming with an imminent official HBO announcement. January 15 is indeed a Sunday, which is when everyone would expect a flagship HBO show to air.
January 15 will also be well after The White Lotus, HBO’s current, post-House of the Dragon Sunday night main series ends, as that finale will be on December 11. Factor in the holidays as a bit of a break for major releases, and January 15 sounds as plausible a date as any for a show we already knew was going to premiere in early 2023. Though that’s very early indeed.
The show stars former Game of Thrones cast members Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie, with the show being written by Chernobyl’s Craig Maizin and shepherded by Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann. The repeated refrain from anyone involved with the show is that it is incredible faithful to the games, which would mark a departure from some other recent live-action video game adaptations, namely Netflix’s Resident Evil and Paramount’s Halo series. Bella Ramsey, however, was told not to play the games so they wouldn’t overly inform her version of Ellie.
HBO is very much treating this as one of its big, flagship series going forward from here. Obviously House of the Dragon is their biggest and they are going to continue to develop more Thrones spin-offs. And Succession is their big Emmy winner that is also returning in 2023. But they seem to have a whole lot of faith in The Last of Us, despite the hit or miss nature of most video game adaptations, and all early footage seems to indicate this may really turn out to be something.
We do not know how many seasons The Last of Us has planned. Obviously there are two main games, but we have no idea if the first season will get all the way through the events of the first game or not, which does seem somewhat unlikely, given its scope. I’m picturing four seasons, two for each game, which I’m sure is something that would satisfy both the team running the show and HBO itself, if it’s a hit.
Naughty Dog has found box office, if not critical success with Sony’s adaptation of Uncharted as a blockbuster franchise, where the first film performed quite well and future films are in the works with Tom Holland starring as a result. The Last of Us looks like a wholly different vibe, and hopefully, a level of quality we rarely see from gaming projects like this.