Given the success - some say strangely unearned, thanks to DB Weiss and David Benioff's recent revelations about their creative process - of Game Of Thrones, you'd think that HBO would be falling over themselves to greenlight ever possible project that expands their Westerosi brand. But that's not the case.
Despite being in development for a considerable length of time and with Naomi Watts attached to star, the first prequel series based on the "Age Of Heroes" has been rather unceremoniously binned and will not air. So, if you've been waiting with baited breath to find out what the real origin of the White Walkers was, you're going to have to put it on ice for now at least.
The show has clearly been in more trouble than was ever really announced, as screenwriter Jane Goldman was asked to redo the show after the first effort left unimpressed HBO producers cold. Even with a revamp, the show was cancelled and Goldman emailed the cast - including Watts, Miranda Richardson, Joshua Whitehouse, and Marquis Rodrigez - to confirm the news.
It's a strange one, particularly with HBO on a huge spending spree with HBO Max set to launch as a direct competitor to Disney+, Netflix and Peacock (and others, of course), but according to Tvline.com , the pilot was "troubled" due to "budget overruns, numerous personal issues and myriad creative differences".
Goldman's writing talent isn't up for debate - she's proved herself a gifted creator a number of times - but if her vision and HBO's didn't match up, then there was obviously always going to be push-back. The episodes that were already filmed will now join the discarded pile that also includes the original version of the Game Of Thrones pilot.
But it isn't the end of the road for Thrones prequels - because that would be stupid - instead HBO have ordered an alternative series called House of the Dragon, which will be set about 300 years before the original series. This was the second part of the one-two of prequel news and it does make things look a little more rosey. Assuming this one gets off the ground and actually ends up being aired to fans.
Casey Bloys, president of HBO programming, spoke at a launch event in LA for HBOMax to announce the series:
"It's my pleasure to announce today that we are ordering House of the Dragon straight to series for HBO. It tells the story of House Targaryen and the early days of Westeros."
It will be co-produced - rather excitingly - by Miguel Sapochnik, who was the best of all of the Thrones directors as well as Ryan Condal and George RR Martin himself. So there goes any opportunity for him to finish the books any time soon, presumably.
The announcement also revealed that the show will be based on Martin's "Fire And Blood":
Martin had been listed as co-creator of the cancelled prequel show, so this isn't a case of HBO returning to the source to get a closer image to what HBO expect of an adaptation of Martins' work.
Let's just hope that the show-runners and writers here are a better fit.
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