Game of Thrones might have taken its final bow, will there be more to come from Westeros in the future?
Fans of the fantasy series could rest assured knowing that HBO had a couple of prequel series in the works, but now one of those projects has apparently been nixed by the network. The potential show written by Jane Goldman and starring Naomi Watts will not be moving forward as a series, HBO has confirmed. The project would have revolved around the Age of Heroes, thousands of years before the events on the original GoT series.
However, dragon-loving fans will be pleased to know that another Targaryen-based prequel has been confirmed by HBO. Almost a month after it was first reported that the network was eyeing a pilot order, the company announced that the series, called House of the Dragon, is indeed happening.
Initially, HBO reportedly commissioned five different ideas for a Game of Thrones prequel or spinoff, but it's unclear which ones will continue to take shape. Here's what we know of all the potential shows so far.
The Targaryen Series
House of the Dragon is slated for 10 episodes.
The script, written by Ryan Condal (Colony, Rampage) will cover events in George R. R. Martin's book, Fire & Blood, which details the history of the dragon-wielding family 300 years before the events in Game of Thrones. It's likely the series would revolve around the Dance of Dragons, the legendary Targaryen civil war. Entertainment Weekly first reported that HBO was close to ordering a pilot in early September. A month later, it was revealed that the network put in a full series order.
Condal, who created the series with Martin, will be co-showrunner with "Battle of the Bastards" director Miguel Sapochnik, who is also directing the pilot and other episodes.
The Age of Heroes Series
HBO confirmed the show is not moving forward.
In a statement released November 1, the network confirmed earlier reports that its untitled project was dead.
"After careful consideration, we have decided not to move forward to series with the Untitled Game of Thrones prequel. We thank Jane Goldman, S.J. Clarkson, and the talented cast and crew for all of their hard work and dedication."
It would have taken place thousands of years before the Game of Thrones story we know.
According to the network, this was the official synopsis for the now-cancelled series:
"Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend, only one thing is for sure: It’s not the story we think we know."
George R. R. Martin explained to The Hollywood Reporter in April 2019, "You're looking at a whole different era of Westeros. No dragons, no Iron Throne, no King's Landing."
However, he told Entertainment Weekly that the Starks, the White Walkers (known in the written series as The Others), direwolves, and mammoths all existed in that world. The Lannisters also weren't around yet, but their ancestral seat, Casterly Rock, existed. At the time, there were hundreds of "petty kingdoms" rather than the seven that stand in Game of Thrones.
Martin even told The Hollywood Reporter that a lot of the story was based on "a sentence or two" in his book, The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and Game of Thrones. "You might find a sentence or two in The World of Ice and Fire," he said. "You certainly won't find 12 pages. A lot of this is based on that line or two, and Jane then took it and came up with something."
Kick-Ass and X-Men screenwriter Jane Goldman was showrunning.
HBO had ordered a pilot for the now-cancelled GoT prequel, directed by SJ Clarkson. The series was created by screenwriter and producer Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, Kingsman), who served as a showrunner, and George R. R. Martin. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss decided not to have too much involvement in the prequels, but stayed on as executive producers.
Clarkson was an executive producer on the prequel, along with Martin, Goldman, James Farrell, Jim Danger Gray, Vince Gerardis, Daniel Zelman, and co-executive producer Chris Symes, HBO announced. Clarkson had previously worked on shows like Orange Is the New Black, Jessica Jones, The Defenders, Vinyl, Succession, and Dexter. She's also set to direct the next installment of the Star Trek film franchise.
There was no official release date for the series, but it could have aired as early as 2020, a year after the Game of Thrones finale.
The budget was also expected to be massive, after HBO's senior VP of drama, Francesca Orsi, said, "$50 million [per season] would never fly for what we are trying to do. We are going big."
Naomi Watts was going to star.
The King Kong and The Ring actress was the first cast member announced for the sequel series. Exact details about her character were unknown, but she was said to portray "a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret," according to Variety.
Other cast members included Josh Whitehouse (Poldark), Miranda Richardson, (AKA Rita Skeeter in the Harry Potter franchise), Naomi Ackie (Star Wars: Episode IX, Doctor Who), Denise Gough (Colette), Jamie Campbell Bower (The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), Sheila Atim (Harlots), Ivanno Jeremiah (Humans), Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia), Alex Sharp (How to Talk to Girls at Parties), and Toby Regbo (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald).
The pilot was already filmed.
Production on the pilot finished up, Casey Bloys, HBO's president of programming, announced at the Television Critics Association summer tour on July 24. "Shooting has wrapped, It looks really good," he said, according to Entertainment Tonight. "The cast is amazing. [Screenwriter] Jane [Goldman] and [director] SJ [Clarkson] are busy in the edit bay, so I haven't seen anything yet, but I'm looking forward to it."
Bloys previously told Entertainment Weekly that production would start in early summer of 2019. On June 18, EW reported that filming was underway in Northern Ireland, where most of the GoT production took place.
When news of the cancellation broke, The Hollywood Reporter stated, "Sources say HBO wasn't thrilled with the final cut of the Watts-led pilot and asked for changes in edits before scrapping the entire thing."
It was rumored to be called The Long Night.
In the fall of 2018, Martin teased on his blog that the project would be titled The Long Night. HBO apparently wasn’t happy with his leaking the details. There was also another issue: Season 8, Episode 3 of Game of Thrones is called "The Long Night." Martin told Entertainment Weekly that he was open to the alternative title, The Longest Night.
The Long Night in the GoT universe is a winter that lasted for generations, marking the White Walkers’ first invasion of Westeros. The event is known to have taken place thousands of years before the current GoT storyline. The raging winter resulted in a conflict known as the War for the Dawn, an epic showdown between the White Walkers versus the Children of the Forest an the First Men (AKA humans). The White Walkers were ultimately defeated and retreated far north, to the Land of Always Winter, and The Wall was built to keep them out.
The series could also have references to The Last Hero, a legendary figure who forged an alliance with the Children of the Forest to defeat the White Walkers in the war. This savior is often conflated with Azor Ahai, a mythical figure who saves the world from darkness and wields a flaming sword called Lightbringer, although it isn’t confirmed if they’re the same person. Maybe the upcoming show will explore these myths further.
Martin also appeared to confirm the show's title in a blog post in May 2019 when he referred to it as, "The one I am not supposed to call THE LONG NIGHT" (which sounds a little like it should be a Friends episode).
Other Potential Spinoffs
It was originally reported that HBO had five Game of Thrones prequel ideas in the works. It's currently unclear which shows, if any, will materialize, but here's what the network could potentially be working with.
Bryan Cogman's show, plus another, won't be moving forward.
One of the potential successor shows would've been written by Bryan Cogman, a co-executive producer and writer on Game of Thrones, and George R. R. Martin, Entertainment Weekly reported. They never publicly shared the concept for the series. However, Cogman confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that HBO decided not to pick up his show because the network decided to "go a different way."
Martin previously hinted that their prequel series was in the works back in May 2017, without mentioning Cogman's name. “He’s a really terrific addition,” Martin wrote on his LiveJournal. “A great guy and a fine writer, and aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda [who run Westeros.org], I don’t know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.”
Martin also confirmed that a second prequel idea had been dropped by HBO, but didn't specify which one. As he wrote on his blog, "We have had five different GAME OF THRONES successor shows in development (I mislike the term 'spinoffs') at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely."
Max Borenstein was originally said to be working on a prequel.
Max Borenstein, a screenwriter for Kong: Skull Island and an upcoming Godzilla movie, is working on a prequel idea for HBO. He hasn’t said anything about his project, but he did speak to Creative Screenwriting about his experiences working on both smaller scale and big-budget projects. “Sometimes it makes sense for a studio to plug screenwriters who do smaller, dramatic pieces into movies that are of giant scale,” he said. “What they’d like to do is bring those giant-scale movies down to earth a little.”
Brian Helgeland was reportedly working on one too.
Brian Helgeland, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for L.A. Confidential (and, the same year, the Razzie for The Postman’s screenplay), is working on a prequel idea for Game of Thrones. More recently, he was behind the movie Legend, which starred Tom Hardy in dual roles as twins. He hasn’t talked about the project, but back in 2015 he said television wasn’t for him. “It’s only in the last four or five years that that’s become an option, but I’m not interested in TV,” he told Collider. “I want to make movies so I’m going to die with my boots on.”
Carly Wray and George R. R. Martin also reportedly had one in the works.
Carly Wray, a writer for The Leftovers and Mad Men, is working on a prequel idea with Martin. Wray hasn’t done much press around her previous projects—or around this one—but she is coming straight off another critically beloved HBO drama, so the transition would be pretty easy for her.