WARNING: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Last of Us. Read at your own risk!
The first episode of The Last of Us has just been released on HBO Max and yet despite the initial setback of the streaming site crashing down, no fans were hindered from fully immersing themselves with the game-accurate depiction of the TV show adaptation. One of the most notable things any viewer would notice is the lengthy premiere of the show. Showrunners Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin break down why they went with an hour-long episode one.
The Last of Us was initially pitched as a Sony movie, until Druckmann rejected the idea of fitting an over-18-hour long video game into a mere three-hour film. It was Mazin who managed to pitch a TV show centering Joel Miller (played by Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (played by Bella Ramsey), which gained a favorable response from Druckmann.
The first episode of The Last of Us runs a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes, close enough to be called a film, including its intro theme, credits sequence, and outro. Recently speaking in the HBO’s The Last of Us Podcast, Mazin shares details on how and why HBO insisted they prolong the first episode. Check out his full quote below:
“Episode 1 used to be Episode 1 and 2,” Mazin said, “It used to just end on the ‘20 years later’ and seeing Joel throw the kid in the fire. In this case, our proxies [at HBO] were saying, ‘It’s not necessarily going to want to make me come back. The whole story of The Last of Us is about Joel and Ellie. If we get a little glimpse of her at the end of Episode 1 and we don’t bring them together… and it just ends with the kid dying, then credits — people may not want to come back.'”
Druckmann added his own sentiment, fully on board with what the HBO executives had to say, “We had a version where we ended on Ellie looking out the window… there’s a mystery here, but we haven’t established why we should care about the kid. We have to get to that moment [where Joel meets Ellie], that’s the start of this journey. The episode is so much better for it.”
The Last of Us is now available to stream on HBO Max.
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