When you watch a high-quality TV show or movie, you’re in awe of what you’re watching and those who helped bring it to life. After all, it takes a village to make a production like that work. You ask yourselves how they created things from scratch and then weave everything together to make the beautiful tapestry of work we’re witnessing. But, after such a series or movie debut, what often surprises fans is that things don’t always go right when filming or planning things out. Something the showrunners of The Last of Us were happy to admit.
Many people were engrossed from the opening scene when it came to the premiere, which is always a good sign that you’re doing something right. However, the showrunner for the adaptation explained that there was initially a different kind of opening that would set a different tone for the first episode:
“I pitched [the cold open] twice,” Craig Mazin said on The Last of Us podcast. “The first time I pitched it, [to co-showrunner Neil Druckmann] was like ‘ehh’ – or we can do the video. It’s Planet Earth, you can watch this beautiful demonstration of how cordyceps works, how it takes over an ant. It tells you everything you need to know. What we decided to do was make our own video like that.”
While that does sound like an atypical cold open, you can understand why Mazin would pitch something like that, as the Cordyceps are a key part of what happens to the planet and its people. But, as he would admit in that same podcast, they realized it was rather boring to watch after they filmed the opening scene. In television, you sometimes have minutes to engross a person to keep them locked in for the full program. But, given the love for the video game the series was adapted from, they didn’t want to waste a single minute and risk losing viewers.
The twist was that they didn’t fix that cold open until about a month away from the end of production. So Mazin went to Neil Druckmann and pitched the one that would make it in, and they both agreed it was far superior.
Given the response to the opening, we’d have to agree that they made the right call. Not only was the premiere beloved by fans and critics alike, but the show also had the second-biggest premiere in HBO history!
Sometimes you need to realize a bad idea and then fix it.