Game of Thrones

HBO's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' TV Show

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General

Maester’s Path Experience from HBO

A couple of months back, Linda and I were asked to get in touch with HBO’s marketing team on something cool they were working on, which was our first hint that… well, something cool was up that wasn’t just Game of Thrones. It was all very mysterious, but two months later, here we are, the honored recipients of “the first link in the Maester’s Path”. In the jargon of the marketing industry, this is apparently called an interactive multi.part marketing initiative, but we just call it awesome. Although a snafu on our end led to a day’s delay in receiving the package, we came to it quite fresh. See below for video and images as we discuss the package, as well as links to other reactions from across the web (and from some unexpected quarters).

Game of Thrones Boosts Books

Variety has an article discussing the year-to-year increase of sales of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, thanks to the upcoming Game of Thrones TV series from HBO. A key quote from the article:

The lengthy tomes by George R. R. Martin are approaching triple-digit growth in year-on-year sales, according to publisher Bantam Books.

Assuming they’re talking about percentages, the series has nearly doubled in sales year-on-year ... and this is likely to explode when the show airs. Charlaine Harris’s novels all hit the bestseller list when the series took off, and though it’s unclear whether Game of Thrones can capture the same wave of new readers, it certainly aims to try. We’ve heard that Harris’s publishers noted that some of her novels increased sales many times over (I believe 4000% was noted for some of her backlist). A buyer for Barnes & Noble is quoted indicating that he certainly believed the TV show would do for GRRM’s series what True Blood did for Harris’s.

March 22nd will see the release of A Game of Thrones with brand new cover art, using an image from the TV series. 250,000 copies of the paperback will be put out in bookstores in the U.S., and Voyager in the U.K. plans to do the same sometime in mid-March according to reports. Winter is coming ... but it looks like Christmas is already here for the publishers of the series!

Remarks from International Screening

Back on the 11th, we reported that representatives of various foreign broadcasters—both those who had secured the rights to Game of Thrones and those who were still undecided—had had the first two episodes screened to them. The word from HBO was that the response was “VERY positive”, and they expected to see more foreign rights deals to be secured on the strength of it.

Now we can report a summary of some remarks from one of the representatives who was in attendance. Göran Danasten, head of fiction acquisitions for Swedish broadcaster Sweden, had some thoughtful commentary on what he saw and what his thoughts were about it. His remarks (in Swedish) can be found starting here

Screencap Gallery Updates

After a bit of a delay, our gallery has been caught up to date with the latest videos. Most over-due are screencaps of the Maisie Williams Artisans’ video. Not too much commentary on these, but there’s some great shots of Arya with Syrio. More significantly, we’ve now completed screencapping and annotating the “Invitation to Westeros” promo, with quite a few observations mixed in that fans might be interested in.

The first image of that can be found from that series, featuring Daenerys, can be found here.

April 18th Premiere in the UK

Via The Guardian, Sky Atlantic has just announced that Game of Thrones will premiere in the U.K. on April 18th, the day after the U.S. premiere on HBO! This was very much hoped for by British fans, and it looks like Sky and HBO agreed with them that this. And just to head off those questions, we asked clarification as to whether it’d be just for the premiere or not. Here’s what Sky Atlantichad to say:

All episodes - the regular #GameofThrones slot will be Mondays.

 

Scandinavia Get Game of Thrones in May

It looks like its official: CANAL+ Sweden and Finland (well, they’re one of the Nordic countries—close enough!) have moved from “late spring” to May for its airing of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which means that CANAL+ Norway and CANAL+ Denmark will be following suit as the premier for CANAL+ shows is always the same in these four countries. No exact word on air date, but CANAL+ Sweden informs us that beginning of May is their target and they hope to soon to be able to announce a firmer date. CANAL+ has an official page for the series, which we expect will be updated when the official airdate is decided.

You can read the press release either translated into English or in Swedish as part of a new feature to the site where we will give news particularly relevant to Sweden and Scandinavia in Swedish. Simply look for the links to the Swedish version at the bottom of the article.

This Week in Game of Thrones

There’s been a few items of note this last week, though on the whole it’s been a bit quieter. Here’s a round-up of some of the more recent news items that may be of interest of fans of the series:

Game of Thrones in Sweden

Although we’ve previously reported information on when Game of Thrones will premiere in Sweden via pay-cabler Canal+ (April/May is as specific as we’ve been able to get so far), we haven’t been able to remark on public broadcasts because there was very little information. Until now, that is, after Göran Danasten (SVT’s head of fiction acquisition) tweeted that he was going to be see the show (presumably its first episode or episodes) next week.

This seemed a tip-off that SVT had acquired or was in the process of acquiring the program, and further conversation with Mr. Danasten confirmed this—SVT will be airing Game of Thrones in Sweden. As to when, there are no exact dates as of yet, but we’ve been told that Canal+ has an exclusivity period, so probably no earlier than the end of 2011.

Game of Thrones on Saturdays in UK?

An article focusing on Sky’s upcoming plans provides a tidbit of information which I believe narrows down when Game of Thrones is likely to premiere on Sky Atlantic (which begins to air tomorrow, February 1st, and will be free to all Sky customers through August). This paragraph seems to be a giveaway:

“Sky Atlantic will screen its best shows at 9pm on Saturdays, attempting to win the sort of reputation that HBO enjoys in America for its Sunday night schedule. “I’m not pretending we will take millions of viewers away from The X Factor but it’s a brilliant high quality alternative for people who are a bit bored of the current offering on Saturday nights,” says Murphy, who argues that the cost of Sky is no more than many British HBO fans pay for boxsets.”

If that holds, and Sky doesn’t run any special “preview” airings of the premiere closer to the U.S. air date, I’ll go out on a limb and predict April 23rd as the launch of the series on Sky Atlantic. April 30th is the only other Saturday in April that’s available, but with almost two weeks between it and the U.S. premiere, it seems to us that Sky will recognize that for the error that it is. Of course, there are fans who’ll be hoping for an airing on the Monday following the U.S. airing, much as HBO Central Europe seems to be getting, and so this may be disappointing. Still, it’s only speculative right now, as Sky Atlantic has not confirmed an air date for the series as of yet.

L.A. Times Predicts Success

Game of Thrones has just gotten something of a stamp of approval (or at least of very positive anticipation) from the L.A. Times in its Hero Complex pop culture blog, as blogger Amy Ratcliffe gives five reasons why HBO’s new series may be a big success. Some excellent points in there, although in the comments I did suggest one of them could use a little clarification.

Five reasons is all well-and-good, but we imagine we could come up with a few more. What would you suggest, if we wanted to make a list with ten reasons?

Around the Web

Here’s a quick round-up of some items from the last few days that we thinks fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones might find of interest. We’ve tweeted them, but haven’t yet had an opportunity to post them up:

 

AdWeek Interview with Benioff & Weiss

This is a fun one from TCA, as the opening of the interview begins with some geeky discussion as to whether Westeros really counts as a single kingdom, and whether there’s actually seven or eight kingdoms within it. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss reiterate that a chief reason for producing the show “the HBO way” is that it allows them to be very faithful to the source material. They recognize they won’t make 100% of the fans happy, but they’re confident most of them will be:

(The answer to the question, by the by, is that Westeros is one kingdom, made up of the seven former kingdoms which existed at the time of Aegon’s conquest. We assume the reference to eight refers to the Iron Islands, but at the time of the Conquest the kingdom of the Iron Isles and the Trident was unified.)

Thanks to mediawill for the pointer!

More Game of Thones Coverage

First off, a pleasant surprise today was seeing Adam Serwer of The American Prospect, a leading liberal editorial magazine in the United States, sharing a blog post enthusing about A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones. Serwer touches on the aspects of the series that most appeal to him, particularly the moral ambiguities in the characters and conflicts in the setting as compared to that ur-text of epic fantasy, The Lord of the Rings.

Combined with Alyssa Rosenberg’s blog posts for The Atlantic about the series, and Pat W. Caldwell’s tweet about Serwer’s piece, is Game of Thrones appealing enough to wonks and pundits to become a cultural artefact worth using as a wobbly jumping-off point for thoughtful political commentary? I’ll believe it once Matthew Yglesias starting talking about it. (I would have said Brad DeLong, but he’s already read the series!)

Also, as promised yesterday, MTV has released another video interview, this one with George R.R. Martin himself, as he discusses his approach to writing A Song of Ice and Fire:

After Elton Interviews GRRM & Weiss

We’re guessing this is from the TCA winter press tour, as no date is provided. After Elton, a pop culture site with a focus on topics of interest to gay men, has comments from executive producer D.B. Weiss and creator George R.R. Martin concerning the sexuality of characters in Game of Thrones. Read the extended text for possible spoilers.

Spanish Airing Information

Yesterday, Variety reported that Spanish broadcast company Antenna 3 secured the rights to a number of HBO programs, including Game of Thrones.  A3 will offer the shows on its new, free-to-air Nitro channel. Looking at the article closely, they note a fall airing for Boardwalk Empire, so it seems that they’ll be airing their HBO programs anywhere from six months to perhaps a year after Canal+ Spain’s airings of HBO’s original dramas, which they recently secured in a multi-year deal.

Speaking of Canal+, a Spanish fan on Twitter, lasultimascosas, alerted us to the fact that Canal+ Spain has now revealed some information on when the show will air in Spain. Over on their official Facebook, they’ve posted a photo gallery titled, “The game begins in May on Canal+!” So, sometime in May, but no more precise airing information yet.