Image: Naughty Dog

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Russian filmmaker Kantemir Balagov will be directing the pilot episode for HBO’s adaptation of Naughty Dog’s critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic franchise, The Last of Us. Balagov doesn’t appear to have much of a resume, but his most recent films, Closeness (2017) and Beanpole (2019), have reportedly won the hearts of many critics since debuting at the Cannes Film Festival. It isn’t clear whether Balagov will be directing only the pilot or the entire series, however.

“Neil Druckmann is without question the finest storyteller working in the video game medium, and The Last of Us is his magnum opus,” writer and executive producer Craig Mazin said during the show’s original announcement in March 2020. “Getting a chance to adapt this breathtaking work of art has been a dream of mine for years, and I’m so honored to do it in partnership with Neil.”

“From the first time I sat down to talk with Craig I was equally blown away by his approach to narrative and his love and deep understanding of The Last of Us,” said Naughty Dog Co-President Neil Druckmann. “With Chernobyl, Craig and HBO created a tense, harrowing, emotional masterpiece. I couldn’t think of better partners to bring the story of The Last of Us to life as a television show.”

HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us will reportedly cover the events of the original 2013 game. We wouldn’t be surprised if some material from the The Last of Us Part II made it into the show, however, as the sequel recently won numerous relevant accolades such as best storytelling and best narrative.

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