The Last of Us has already proven that it can be a huge success for HBO, Naughty Dog, and video game adaptations in general. Adapted from the survival horror video games first created by Naughty Dog, The Last of Us sees Joel and Ellie make their way across a post-apocalyptic United States that’s being ravaged by the zombie-like infected victims of a cordyceps fungus. The original The Last of Us 2013 video game was a huge success with players and was praised by critics and fans alike.
The HBO adaptation is already gaining similar praise, and the anticipation around the series is evident in the fact that the premiere of The Last of Us was watched by 4.7 million viewers (via Deadline). This makes The Last of Us the second-best debut for the network in a decade, coming second only to the Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon, which garnered 9.986 million views for its first episode. Although there was some concern that the spin-off wouldn’t attract the same viewership after the Game of Thrones season 8 finale controversy, House of the Dragon had a heavily established fanbase in the world of TV, whereas The Last of Us‘ success comes on the back of video game success and a strong advertising campaign.
Can The Last Of Us Maintain Its Episode 1 Success?
The Last of Us adaptation was created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, the latter of whom was the writer and creator of both The Last of Us video games and is now the co-president of Naughty Dog. HBO’s The Last of Us made some notable changes from the video games in episode 1, but it is proving to primarily add even more depth to an already great story. “Our focus was simply to make the best possible adaptation of this beloved story for as big an audience as we could,” said Mazin and Druckmann. “We are overjoyed to see how many fans, both old and new, have welcomed The Last of Us into their homes and their hearts.”
Compared to House of the Dragon, The Last of Us’ 4.7 million premiere viewers might not seem like much, but the context of HBO’s other shows helps to put those numbers in perspective. Euphoria is a hugely popular show and has gained a lot of viewers across HBO and HBO Max since its release, but the series premiere only garnered 2.4 million viewers. Shows like Succession, White Lotus, Barry, or Big Little Lies didn’t come out of the gate swinging like The Last of Us did either. The video game adaptation is sitting on a high at the moment, with the critic and audience score both over 95% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing.
Things Can Change Following The Upcoming Episodes
With these numbers only reflecting The Last of Us episode 1, there are plenty of hazards that HBO’s adaptation will need to avoid across the remaining 8 episodes in season 1. However, considering Mazin’s previous success with the Chernobyl series and Druckmann’s creative involvement, the future certainly looks bright for the remaining episodes of The Last of Us season 1. If the success of the show continues, then it seems likely that HBO will look to adapt The Last of Us: Part II to create season 2, and the franchise has the scope to grow even larger.
While video game adaptations once seemed inevitably doomed to failure, that curse increasingly seems to be a thing of the past. Shows such as The Witcher, Arcane, and The Last of Us have proven that if given the proper respect, then audiences will indeed watch. That’s great news for video gamers, as a huge number of adaptations are in production including big names such as Gears of War, Assassin’s Creed, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and God of War.
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