HBO dropped $30 million on a pilot that ultimately went nowhere.
I’ve watched enough TV and movies to know that when a network has a hit on their hands, they will attempt to milk it for all it’s worth. One such hit was Game of Thrones, the HBO TV sensation that captured audiences’ attention for a good eight years. The Game of Thrones TV series was merchandised to heck and back, with every product and spin-off HBO thought they had a shot at. Surprisingly, though, a prequel was not one of those things, though apparently it wasn’t for lack of trying.
In an interview for his new book, Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, journalist James Andrew Miller spoke with former WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt about Game of Thrones, specifically about the cancelled pilot episode for a prequel 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.”
HBO was rumored to be workshopping a handful of Game of Thrones prequels as far back as 2017, but the sheer star power of the property on which it was based made concocting such a story a herculean endeavor.
“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.”
HBO spent $30M on the canceled #GameOfThrones prequel 'The Long Night'
📖 Tinderbox pic.twitter.com/fFZfPRulaH
— Culture Crave 🍿 (@CultureCrave) December 1, 2021
The prequel pilot was shelved after being filmed in entirety back in 2019, but while prequels aren’t happening, spin-offs like Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon are still in the work.
“I’m the one who encouraged Casey to greenlight it to series,” said Greenblatt, referring to HBO chief content officer Casey Bloys. “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’.”