HBO’s first run at a Game of Thrones prequel was ultimately canceled after they spent a staggering $30 million on a pilot episode. During an interview with James Andrew Miller in his new book, Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, former WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt revealed what happened with the canceled Game of Thrones series.
“They had spent over $30 million on a Game of Thrones prequel pilot that was in production when I got there,” he said. “And when I saw a cut of it in a few months after I arrived, I said to Casey, ‘This just doesn’t work, and I don’t think it delivers on the promise of the original series.’ And he didn’t disagree, which actually was a relief.”
House of the Dragon – First Images from the Game of Thrones Prequel
Casey Bloys is HBO’s chief content officer and was on hand to oversee Game of Thrones when it finally came to an end after an eight-season run.
“We unfortunately decided to pull the plug on it,” explained Greenblatt. “There was enormous pressure to get it right and I don’t think that would have worked.”
As far back as 2017, a couple of different Game of Thrones prequels were said to be in development by HBO – one of them set “thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones”.
After the conclusion of the critically-acclaimed show however, the prequel series starring Naomi Watts was canceled.
“After careful consideration, we have decided not to move forward to series with the Untitled Game of Thrones prequel,” HBO said in a statement. “We thank Jane Goldman, S.J. Clarkson, and the talented cast and crew for all of their hard work and dedication.”
The pilot episode of the unreleased Game of Thrones prequel was filmed in Northern Ireland back in 2019, but was ultimately shelved. However, HBO did announce that a separate series, the upcoming Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon, had been given the greenlight.
At the time of these announcements, no further details were given about the nixed prequel, but now it looks to have been a costly mistake for HBO.
However, things are said to be “going well in the development process” for House of the Dragon.
“I’m the one who encouraged Casey to greenlight it to series,” said Greenblatt. “I said, ‘Let’s not risk $30 million on a pilot.’ You can’t spend $30 million on a pilot and then not pick it up. So, I said, ‘Let’s not make a pilot. Let’s get a great series that we feel good about, and just make it. Or not’.”
Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon is expected to premiere on HBO in 2022.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.