One fell down and broke its crown: AGame of Thronesprequel projectpreviously greenlit by HBO in 2018 and set to star Naomi Watts hasreportedly been axed, leaving the fate of the franchise’s four other planned spinoffs uncertain.
Deadline is reportingthat showrunnerJane Goldman, a producer and writer best known for writingKingsman(2014) andThe Woman in Black(2012), has announced to the show’s cast and crew that the series, which was rumored to have been calledBloodmoonor, is dead.
Although HBO has not confirmed the series’ status, a page promoting the prequel on the HBO website, which was (online) until October 29,now returns a 404. Vox has reached out to HBO for details about the reported cancelation of the series and will update with more when we receive it.
The creative team had wrapped a pilot shoot in Northern Ireland earlier this year that had, according to rumor per Deadline, run into unspecified production issues:
Word of the Watts-led pilot, penned by Goldman and directed by SJ Clarkson, not going forward comes after a lengthy post-production, which included re-editing of the initial cut after it was not well received, and rumors about issues during filming in Northern Ireland.
Still, in late July, HBO’s president of programming, Casey Bloys, called the prequel pilot “amazing”- while acknowledging he hadn’t seen it yet – and said that the infamous backlash toGame of Thrones‘eighth and final seasonwouldn’t affect the prequel’s chances of success.
So what happened? In addition to any pricy production hangups, the recent announcement thatGame of Thronesshowrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss hadsigned a lucrative, five-year exclusivity deal with Netflixmight have cooled HBO’s enthusiasm for nurturing anotherGame of Thronesproject so soon after season eight, as it seeks to compete in the much-vauntedstreaming wars.
Fans were also among the first topoint outthat Benioff and Weiss, who had virtually no experience when they were hired for the project, shot anotoriously badGame of Thronespilot– but unlike Goldman’s pilot, HBO gave them the chance and the budget to complete a massive reshoot.
Little was known about Goldman’s prequel project. The idea for the untitled show came from Goldman and author George R.R. Martin, upon whoseSong of Ice and Firefantasy seriesGame of Thronesis based. Directed by S.J. Clarkson (Jessica Jones), the TV series was set 5, 000 years before the events ofGame of Thrones. HBO billed it as promising to show Westeros’s “descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour.” Such a historical setting might have meant an up-close look at legendary Westerosi characters like Bran the Builder, and the war between humans and the Children of the Forest that led to the creation of the White Walkers. Now, it could be up to the other potential prequel series to fill in those gaps.
A number of otherGame of Thronesspinoff projects are reportedly still in the works, though exactly how many isn’t quite clear. Originally, HBO was considering up to five spinoff projects. Bloysannounced in 2018that only one of the original five was actively moving forward – the purportedly canceled Goldman project – but that some of the other projects still had life in them.
HBO axed oneof the original five pitched series, from longtimeThroneswriter Bryan Cogman, in April. Another of the remaining series in development hails from longtime writer and directorBrian Helgeland(A Knight’s Tale); another comes fromCarly Wray(Mad Men). Details on both projects are very sketchy, and it’s unclear whether a series pilot is close for either show; in May of 2019, Martinwrote on his blogthat two of the remaining series “remain in the script stage, but are edging closer” to production, however.
Four months later, in September, rumors surfaced that HBO was close to ordering a pilot for an additional (prequel series about House TargaryenfromColonyco-creatorRyan Condaland Martin. This project will undoubtedly hew closer to Martin’s substantial established world-building – he’s announced that it’s based on events chronicled in his historical Westeros companion bookFire & Blood–to explore the reign of the tempestuous Targaryen clan over Westeros, and the events surrounding a civil war which split the country.
The Condal / Martin series was rumored to have been a recycled version of Cogman’s pitch – but it also sounds very close toanother previously pitched prequel series, rumored to have been titledEmpire of Ash.That series, developed byMax Borenstein(Kong: Skull Island), focused on the Westerosi historical period known as theDoom of Valyria. It’s unclear whether HBO is now developing two different prequels focused on the Targaryens, whether one has superseded the other, or whether these two projects have merged.
What does seem clear is that the future of a beloved universe which once seemed destined to continue churning out spinoffs indefinitely is nowhere near as secure as it appears. Hopefully forGame of Thronesfans, one of these pilots will finally take flight.