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UK Sees Game of Thrones in April

The Guardian is reporting that Sky—who recently secured exclusive broadcast rights to HBO’s original programming—is launching a new high definition channel, Sky Atlantic, to feature HBO’s programs as well as Mad Men, which they recently scooped up from the BBC. The channel will cost £19 a month as part of the Sky Variety Pack, and will launch early in 2011.

Most interestingly, Sky reports that Game of Thrones is set to begin airing in April. This likely means the show will be airing no more than a month after it premieres in the United States.

What the Dispatches Tell Us

Okay, still processing Bryan Cogman’s Dispatches from the Seven Kingdoms. By now, the majority of episodes IV and V have been completed, as has a large part of episode III. Going through it post by post:

  • July 23rd: A new scene between Ned and Cersei, not from the novels and not in episode IV. From episode IV—written by Cogman—is a tender scene between Ned and Arya. At a guess, this scene is the one that leads up to her dancing master being employed. At this time, the first week or two of filming are largely in the Red Keep sets in the Paint Hall studio.

  • July 29: Ned speaking with Grand Maester Pycelle, also from episode 4. This corresponds with Ned’s fifth chapter, his second after reaching King’s Landing. Still at the Paint Hall at this point, it looks like.

  • July 30: Big small council scene, which we’re told is one of three fatured across three episodes in the first season. Now, the list of people attending this scene is interesting: Mark Addy as Robert, Aidan Gillen as Littlefinger, Julian Glover as Pycelle, Sean Bean as Eddard Stark. Is this an entirely new scene, or one significantly changed up? There are, to my recollection, only three small council scenes in A Game of Thrones, only one of which has Robert present. But in that scene, Barristan Selmy (played by Ian McElhinney) is also present, and yet he isn’t mentioned. This may suggest that Robert has been inserted into one of the two earlier small council scenes—featured in Eddard’s first and third Kign’s Landing chapters—while for some reason (probably simply streamlining the cast to focus on fewer characters) Barristan the Bold has been left out.

    Of course, we do know that the last of Ned’s small council scene has already been shot, in part or in full, because we saw it in the teaser—here’s a frame. Given what Bryan has said, we think we can now place that scene from the teaser (which may not be the same scene as he’s watching) as being in episode V, directed by Brian Kirk. Very compressed storytelling, as episode V then encompasses both the tourney chapter from Ned and his following chapter. Things are moving pretty fast, all considered, if that’s the case. At a guess, the three small council scenes he mentions may be in episodes III, IV, and V respectively… or IV and V, and then one scene down the road that’s a bit different.

  • August 3: The first day on location, at Leslie Hill as we previously reported (here’s a Ballymoney Times article about this. We can see from the Behind the Scenes featurette that footage was also shot there on the next day if we read that slate right, and that it would all have been for episode III, directed by Brian Kirk. A new name is mentioned, Paul Jennings, as stunt coordinator. Jennings has some significant credits, including Batman Begins (where Buster Reeves, the series’ fight arranger, was the lead stunt double for Christian Bale). Post-production digital effects will be used to expand the Leslie Hill area to represent the Dothraki sea.

  • August 5: Filming at Leslie Hill is done and we go to the “opposite end” of Northern Ireland. This was a bit confusing, but Leslie Hill’s to the north of Belfast, whereas we believe Sandy Brae is in the Mourne Mountains region in the southeast corner of the country. If that’s right, Vaes Dothrak is well-situated in a region that has some mountains, as the Dothraki city is situated next to the holy Mother of Mountains. The usual cast you expect will be there is there.

Now, to the present. Bryan mentions scenes with Bran and Tyrion’s stand-in. Hrm… Tyrion’s stand-in? Scenes from Bran’s bedchamber? This leads us to some speculation, to say the least, about the content of episode IV. But, equally possible, it’s general shooting of scenes from the first episode. The original pilot is in the process of reshoots, due to recasting and various other tweaks. We know from recent reports that Castle Ward has been used for filming for the last several days.

A final comment: if large parts of episodes III, IV, and V have been shot… might it make sense that Brian Kirk is in charge of four of the total episodes of the series? Certainly, III and V are definitely Kirk episodes, and it seems difficult to imagine so much of IV having been done if they were constantly switching directors from shoot to shoot during the day. We’ve also previously reported the possibility that Kirk is in charge of the reshoots for the pilot episode, which may be what’s presently being shot.

(Oh, and as a bit of trivia, the scrolls can be partially read if you reverse the image. “Aegon Targaryen, the Fourth of his Reign, King of the Andals and the First Men” can be clearly read. Nice! We’re going to guess that the scroll is one among many on Grand Maester Pycelle’s table. Of course… there’s a lack of reference to the Rhoynar. There’s a couple possible reasons for this, perfectly consistent with the setting—and, in particular, with that particular Targaryen king—and we hope one of those reasons are relevant.)

GRRM on Game of Thrones

Thanks to LordMountainGoat, we now have video of George R.R. Martin’s Worldcon panel in which he discusses the series. As previously reported, George had wanted to show some of his personal materials and to go into more depth, but at that time HBO was very closed-mouth. Therefore, his discussion of the series is fairly general. Still, makes for interesting listening as he discusses the genesis of the series. Note that there are spoilers:



 

New Gallery Images

We’ve added screencaps fromHBO’s Fall/Winter 2010 preview video, featuring Sean Bean as Eddard Stark and Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, to the gallery. These shots are interesting in that they probably give us our best idea of how the series will look when it hits the air, as the teaser footage makes use of a very dark filter and the behind the scenes is straight-up documtenary footage.

Game of Thrones Screencap Gallery

We’ve collected screen captures from HBO’s latest video releases (missing just a couple of Ned shots from the 2010-2011 preview) and have posted them at our gallery. If you’ve seen our dissection of the videos, you’ll have seen all of these, but if you click through you’ll find that each image has additional commentary from us. Much of it pertains to comparisons to the novels, especially in regards to thematic details such as armor, clothing, and the like.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts on the images. We plan to add the original teaser screencaps to the gallery in time.

For those concerned about spoilers, there are none which are not already self-evident from the trailer and behind the scenes video.

Brief Clips of Sean Bean as Ned

One other thing that HBO has released is their overall 2010/2011 preview, featuring a number of the productions they’re readying to knock the socks off of subscribers. At the very beginning and towards the very end, we get glimpses of Sean Bean as Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and one of the central characters of Game of Thrones. These clips are not part of the promo teaser or behind-the-scenes material, so are worth a look!

This two brief clips are from the very first scene where we see Ned, executing a deserter from the Night’s Watch.

NEW UPDATE: Dissecting the New Teaser (more images!)

Images coming later (sorry, folks, it’s quite late!). First, the teaser:

9 seconds: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) on the Wall.

10 seconds: Ser Hugh of the Vale jousting at the Hand’s Tourney.

10-11 seconds: Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and someone we can’t identify.

14 seconds: Arryn men-at-arms, presumably in the Vale.

15 seconds: Tyrion in the Vale held prisoner by a unknown man-at-arms (possibly Bronn’s fellow sellsword, Chiggen, who may be unnamed)

16 seconds: Sandor Clegane fighting his brother, Ser Gregor Clegane. The Mountain that Rides looks MASSIVE. His armor is a hauberk of steel plates, rather than plate armor as with some other knights glimpsed earlier on.

17 Seconds. Eddard Stark, King Robert, Varys, and Grand Maester Pycelle at the small council table. Robert and Eddard are arguing. Big tapestry in the background.

19 seconds: What we believe is the final Game of Thrones logo, or near enough.

And now the behind the scenes promo:

8 seconds: Shot of the tourney ground. Baratheon banner notable.

9 seconds: Targaryen banner… where would that be hanging? Hmm. Alas, the dragon has four legs—this may be our fault! It’s supposed to be two, in fact, but perhaps it’s a creative change.

9-10 seconds: A youth fighting with a stick. We guess this is Prince Joffrey, heir to the Iron Throne.

11 seconds: What we guess is a wildling fighting someone. Don’t want to spoil. ;)

11-12 seconds: Catelyn Stark. Michelle Fairley looks amazing.

19-21 seconds: Jon Snow sparring. We suspect this is Grenn, played by Mark Stranley. A lack of helmets noted, tut-tut.

29 seconds: A bunch of Baratheon guards and what we intially believed to be a blurry glimpse of Jaime Lannister with a positively leonine mane of blond hair. The red cloak is certainly suggestive. However, now we think that he is in armor in this scene. Another set of arms are glimpsed here as well, which is nice: a rooster on red. Perhaps one of the hedge knights attaching themselves to the king’s train?

29 seconds: On the monitor, Ned Stark cleaning Ice, from the start of the novel.

32 seconds: A brief glimpse of someone we don’t recognize. We are told by HBO that this is in fact an extra.

32 seconds: We’re told these men in the foreground are Lannister guardsmen.  A distictly Asian flair to their armor, but still recognizably plate armor. The helmets are the most striking pieces, seeming quite like samurai helmets, but it’s hard to say what they look like when the visors are down. Behind them is a gold cloak.

32 seconds: Some sort of Northern lord or Stark servant? Not an identifiable actor.

37-38 seconds: Viserys Targaryen, played by Harry Lloyd, using a single-edged sword which we initially thought might be an arakh. However, the Dothraki in the background, who may be Jhogo (Elysa Gabel), seems to have a long-hafted, sickle-like weapon hanging from his horse. He also seems to be wearing some sort of vest or lamellar armor. A bit of a change from the novels, in which the Dothraki disdain armor.

43 seconds: Dothraki travelling through willows. This would be the material that was shot in Ballymoney.

45 seconds: Ser Jorah Mormont, played by Iain Glen. Part of the same travelling sequence.

56 seconds: George! With Richard Madden. Shortly after, David Benioff dates the interview: a couple of weeks after George visited the set for the pilot.

1:00 minute: The Stark direwolf on the Wall.

1:01: Ser Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) and who we believe to be Rast (Luke McEwan), possibly attacking poor Samwell.

1:03: Very padded Bran fighting against Prince Tommen.

1:04: Catelyn Tully hiding from danger, and Tyrion Lannister enters the scene from behind the camera.

1:07: The massive Conan Stevens practicing his fight choreography.

1:08: The lovely Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and a very brief glimpse of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) sitting next to her. I’ll bet the fastening of his doublet is a mockingbird. On Sansa’s other side, Arya. Jeyne Poole seems to have fallen by the wayside, which I believe has been previously confirmed.

1:09: Kit Harington practicing with Mark Stanley.

1:10: Sean Bean as Eddard Stark in ... well, King’s Landing certainly.

1:10-1:11: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, hair dyed, and a great crimson-and-gold leather jerkin.

1:11: Mark Addy as King Robert (looking very relaxed with a styrofoam cup and a bar of chocolate! Obviously between takes) and Lena Headey looking marvelous as Queen Cersei. Their children, Prince Tommen and Princess Myrcella,  can be glimpsed just at the end. Just off camera is Sandor Clegane.

1:12: Arya (Maisie Williams) and Bran (Isaac Hempestead Wright) having fun. Wonderful!

1:17: A knight in armor. Ser Hugh of the Vale? Hard to tell.

1:19: Two direwolf pups. Awww!

1:25: Daenerys Targaryen among the Dothraki. We beleve that’s Jhogo behind her, and his armor seems more like woven leather than lamellar or scale.

1:26: A better glimpse of Princess Myrcella and Prince Tommen. Followed by some direwolf emboridery, and then a shot of Kingsguard in ceremonial armor. Alas, it lacks the white cloaks, or any nod to it (even their armor is white in the books), but it’s an interesting look at least. Of all the things we’ve seen so far, we’d call this the most “stereotypically” fantasy. But hey, at least they have the “intricate suit of scales” thing going. Then they’re followed by some Lannister men, if the red that predominates reveals anything. Finally, that character from earlier. He and the other individual are extras, HBO tells us.

1:27: Michelle Fairley as Catelyn. Love the look, love the blue with her hair. Behind her, some of the sellswords who accompany her. And then the black-helmeted Ser Gregor Clegane followed by Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, is a truly magnificent helmet that evokes flowers and plant life. Marvellous!

HBO Launches Making Of Site

HBO’s listened to what you wanted to hear, folks! Visit Making Game of Thrones, a new site where the producers will be blogging a bit about the process behind making the series, sharing unique details and information with all the fans.

New Game of Thrones Promo

Watch the new Game of Thrones promotional video below!

And here is the In Production preview!

Brilliant, isn’t it? More in a bit as we provide our preliminary dissection of what we’ve all just seen courtesy of HBO.

Game of Thrones Sneak Peek Details

After digging around a bit, we’ve learned that the preview of Game of Thrones that’s part of the True Blood pre-show will feature both new footage as well as an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the production. And on top of that, as previously reported, media sites such as Westeros will be receiving a new still to share with everyone on the web.

HBO Announces New Game of Thrones Material

Via e-mail, HBO has informed media sites that the True Blood pre-show starting at 8:40 EST will feature “previews of upcoming HBO Original Programming including Game of ThronesBoardwalk EmpireMildred Pierce, In Treatment, Big Love, Eastbound & Down, Bored to Death, Enlightened and Curb Your Enthusiasm.” A little bird has whispered to us that there’s some sort of long trailer already floating around in the labyrinths of HBO, but whether the pre-show preview will be that or another short teaser like the first teaser remains a question.

HBO promises to have the video up on the web—probably at the official Game of Thrones sub-site—within minutes of its airing, which is good news for those of us overseas (*ahem*). Also, a new still from the production will be sent to media sites to post online. Suffice it to say, Linda and I will be getting to bed late…

Notice how Game of Thrones leads the list of shows? Could be coincidence… or it could be a sign that HBO is aware of just how massive the interest is in the series on-line. A little bird has also whispered that some eyebrows were raised at how many hits that first little teaser earned…

Any odds that this time around, Daenerys Targaryen will be featured? Emilia Clarke has some gorgeous new portrait photos posted, taken by renowned celebrity photographer Lorenzo Aguis. Could be sheer coincidence, of course, but… one never knows.

Game of Thrones in Scandinavia

Thanks to the Dagbladet interview with Amrita Acharya, which revealed that HBO’s Game of Thrones will be airing on Canal+ in Norway, we’ve done a bit of digging. An agreement appears to have been made in February between Canal+ Scandinavia (a separate entity from Canal+ in France, Spain, and other countries) and HBO. This 3 year agreement gives Canal+ Scandinavia exclusive first airing rights to HBO’s content, somewhat similar to the Sky-HBO deal we have previously reported on for the U.K.

A representative for Canal+ in Sweden has confirmed that Game of Thrones is part of this agreement, and will air both on the regular network and their HD network in all of Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) at the same time. Although the Dagbladet report suggests a Fall or Winter 2011 air date, Canal+ in Sweden says they don’t have a firm air date as of yet but they promise to keep in touch with Westeros.org when there is new information.

Game of Thrones Focus Group Reports

If you’ll recall, a couple of weeks ago, Westeros.org put out the word that a focus group was in the offing related to the A Song of Ice and Fire series, having been selected by Schlessinger Associates—a leading market research company—as the best way to get the word out. What we couldn’t state publicly then, but we can now that it’s done, is that this was specifically commissioned by none other than HBO as part of their marketing research for Game of Thrones.

We’re still getting some reports in, but having now seen a very thorough post at “The Princess and the Warlock” blog, we thought we’d add some more details we’ve had. Among the questions asked of the men’s group was what would make a strong tag phrase for the series. “Winter is Coming” was agreed to be very strong, but a number of other iconic lines were mentioned, such as “The things I do for love,” “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die,” and the Targaryen motto, “Fire and Blood” (other mottos, such as “Hear Me Roar”, were not felt to be particularly useful from a marketing perspective).

The topic of magic also came up in the discussion. Although the reporter did not recall the details of whether it was brought up by the focus group leader or by the group themselves, it was discussed as being an important facet of the setting. It was also noted to be markedly different from magic in other adapted works, such as Harry Potter—more low-key, leaving the setting “more realistic”.

Among the things focus group participants were asked to provide were examples of any paraphenalia they had related to the series, including things like copies of fan fiction. It was noted to us, however, that more than one participant noted that there’s relatively little fan fiction out of respect for George R.R. Martin’s wishes on the matter.

The Princess and the Warlock note a number of interesting details, the most notable of which were that more topics were covered by the women’s group, which led to some questions the men did not get asked. The question as to who the heroes and villains were were noteworthy, but the question about the most romantic character might well leave HBO scratching their head. What are they to make of the fact that the most romantic male character is the dead Prince of Dragonstone, Rhaegar Targaryen? Perhaps this will improve the odds of fans getting a glimpse of Rhaegar, Lyanna, and other noteworthies from Robert’s Rebellion… Certainly, the topic of flashbacks came up.

Many thanks to all the great fans who answered our call and also provided these reports (particularly Brude, whose collage made us learn just what the Defenestration of Prague was), and for naming Westeros and our friends over at Winter is Coming as favorite sites to get all the news there is to have regarding the series and show. Also a hat tip to the Westeros Sorting community on LiveJournal for helping to spread the word and show that LJ had a vibrant fan community as well.

Joe Auditions for Game of Thrones

Who’s Joe, you may ask? An American residing in Northern Ireland, Joseph Campo is an independent actor, writer, and director who has set his sights on landing a role in HBO’s Game of Thrones. To drum up support, he’s taken to Youtube, where he’s created a channel where he’s posted several videos making his case with a substantial helping of humor. But humor aside, Campo is quite serious, and has already done some legwork, such as verifying that he should be eligible to join British Equity due to his current acting associations.

His latest video seems to hint that he’ll be preparing an audition video for the role of Mance Rayder, or perhaps some other wildling, but we’ll share his first video which brought him to the attention of Game of Thrones fanatics:

HBO Exec on Game of Thrones

In an interview with Vanity Fair, HBO‘s president of programming Michael Lombardo discusses HBO’s past and present Emmy success, far and away the most nominated and award-winning cable network for the last number of years. In the course of the discussion, Lombardo brings up Game of Thrones, where he has the following to say:

“The fact that it was genre, i.e. a little bit of magic, in a world that is not in fact real was irrelevant to the storytelling. The human drama that I read in the page, the characters as scripted by David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss]—I was hooked on the pilot after reading it, and I’ve done this enough now to know that doesn’t happen all the time and when it happens you need to pay attention to it. Because to have a great show, I got to tell you, what you have to start with is a great script. It was a great script.”

Thanks to Nymeria_WiC for bringing the interview to our attention.