After a steady trickle of teases over the last year, we finally get an official clip of Naughty Dog’s live-action The Last of Us HBO series. In the network’s latest HBO Max “Coming Soon” trailer, Joel and Ellie make their (very brief) real-life debut that honestly looks great, but the timing is pretty damn suspicious.
Even at seconds long, the teaser delivers a few moments to signal that it is indeed a take on the game you remember. There’s Joel carrying Sarah, a clip of Nick Offerman as Bill, and nasty Clicker fungus. According to Deadline, The Last of Us won’t make its debut in time for a 2022 marathon, and this latest teaser confirms as much. The first title card pins the HBO series for some time next year, but we’re getting our first look now — just as HBO lays off 14% of its staff.
If you don’t care about other HBO series like Our Flag Means Death, The Idol, and others, just go ahead and skip to the end of the sizzle reel. The Last of Us footage starts around the 1:40 mark and walks us through a day in the post-apocalyptic life of Pedro Pascal (Joel) and Bella Ramsey (Ellie).
It’s also weirdly convenient timing to stick a bunch of heavy hitters out there days after making your terrible layoff announcement. Following its big deal with Warner Bros Discovery, HBO decided to fire around 70 employees in the name of restructuring post-merger. While we could be generous to a nasty media conglomerate and assume it’s a coincidence, it’s hard to read big reveals like this as anything other than a distraction.
On Friday, Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav responded to the layoffs by not saying shit. According to Variety, a companywide memo from Zaslav rambled on about the new Game of Thrones series, House of the Dragon. He talked about watching the premiere out in Los Angeles, all of the big company goals, and their “one shared priority.” Zaslav describes that priority as every leg of the organization working to support each other in the pursuit of success. Weirdly out of touch framing, but also, this guy sounds like he’s friends with Jim Ryan.
Despite Zaslav’s predictably corporate focus on the positive, Deadline offered a look at the human toll the layoffs took. HBO’s non-scripted division was part of those harsh cuts, and the network pulled several shows that brought diversity to its lineup. One source speaking to Deadline said the decisions on cuts and programming were “like being whitewashed.”