HBO’s “The Last of Us” is one of the biggest shows of 2023 so far, so big that Sony Pictures Entertainment film chairman Tom Rothman is wishing the studio had gone ahead and turned the video game into a feature film. “The Last of Us” is based on the Sony Playstation game of the same name.
“Yes,” Rothman answered when asked by Business Insider if he wishes “The Last of Us” was a Sony movie. “But I’m very happy for them and I think it’s better suited episodically. I’m jealous in the best way.”
“The Last of Us,” starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, centers on survivors of a pandemic in a world where brain-eating fungus has decimated the human population. The show has been a ratings powerhouse for HBO, garnering over 7 million viewers in one night as of its fourth episode airing.
Rothman also opened up to Business Insider about his decision not to censor films such as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” even if that meant not playing in China and losing out on money. China reportedly banned “No Way Home” because Sony refused to edit out the Statue of Liberty from the film’s third act.
“We’ve declined to do many things,” Rothman said. “We declined to take a scene out of ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.’ Our basic position is we will edit the same way we do for TV and airlines. We will edit for sensitivities to violence or sexuality but we won’t edit for ideas.”
Rothman added, “China’s functionally pretty much closed off to American product, and there hadn’t been a Marvel movie in there for three years, I think, but things have warmed up in the last year and I think there is hope there is a little more openness now.”
The Sony CEO also weighed in on AMC Theaters’ controversial new Sightline initiative, which changes ticket pricing based on seat location within the auditorium. Rothman called it “a very ill-timed maneuver.”
“I did not think it was wise at all,” Rothman said. “The movie business is coming back really well now. Last year there was COVID and then Omicron, and production had slowed down — last year was fits and starts. There would be good weeks and less good weeks. Really from Christmas on it’s been terrific. The box office is up significantly over last year and it has really good momentum.”
“The story got blown out of proportion and it’s a trial thing, and I’m sure it’s not going to go anywhere,” Rothman continued. “I thought it was a very unhelpful headline. It’s their business and they can do what they want but I don’t know anybody outside of [AMC HQ] Kansas City who thinks it’s a good idea.”
Sony recently scored a big box office hit with its Tom Hanks-starring “A Man Called Otto,” which has earned nearly $60 million at the domestic box office. Next up for the studio is its science-fiction action tentpole “65,” starring Adam Driver as a pilot who crash lands on Earth 65 million years ago. The film opens in theaters March 10.
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