What follows is a comparison of Google’s search volume from U.S. addresses for the phrases “Game of Thrones” (blue) and “Boardwalk Empire” (red), their two new shows. Boardwalk Empire has an amazing pedigree, with Martin Scorsese as producer and director of its pilot, and a host of well-regarded actors, as well as rumored buckets of production money unlike any pilot every filmed. And yet . . .
The 1 month timeline is screwy, but it does let us see the relative spike in search traffic volume for Game of Thrones when the teaser and sub-site premiered as compared to Boardwalk Empire‘s more modest spike in activity after their promo and newest trailer release. It looks like GoT had three times the search volume following the teaser, a huge gain presaged by the report that the first novel ended up on Amazon.com’s Movers & Shaker list for awhile.
Of course, we’ve been getting more about Boardwalk Empire for longer, but it’s interesting to see on the “max” scale that the show has only on a couple of occasions spiked above the volume for the Game of Thrones phrase. Some significant portion of that volume (especially back before 2008) is due to the novels, of course, but the huge spikes of late—and the upward trend seen in the “max” scale—are definitely in large part due to the series. This show has more pre-production buzz than any show HBO’s ever aired before, near as we can tell—probably a motivator for such an early unveiling of the sub-site (have we said thanks for that, yet? Thanks, HBO!)—and if we look how True Blood trended, it’s possible that the series could bring down the internet if it pushes the right buttons for HBO viewers.
HBO’s release of the teaser and their opening of the official site for the series—an unprecedented move for a series almost a year out from airing! Straight from the sight are a number of high-resolution images of Ned Stark, perfectly suitable for a widescreen desktop or mobile phone:
But what didn’t we see that we would have expected to see? I’m not talking Daenerys Targaryen or Catelyn Stark—roles that have since been recast and which will have to be reshot. But roles that, at least to our knowledge, haven’t been recast?
Well, the Stark children are missing, but in 20 seconds you can’t really touch on them. We don’t see Jason Momoa as Drogo directly, but that’s probably because his scenes would have been with Tamzin Merchant, the former Daenerys Targaryen. But it’s perhaps a little surprising that we don’t see the direwolf dead in the snow, and it’s very surprising that there’s no clear look at the Lannisters (though we hint that there’s a rather unclear look in our teaser dissection), who are the primary antagonists (kinda-sorta) in the first book(s). Especially when they’re led by three recognizable actors in pop culture circles: Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Peter Dinklage. Why weren’t they featured, at least briefly? If not all three—since Ned was the sole Stark representative, basically—then why not Dinklage as Tyrion? And for that matter, how about Mark Addy as Robert? Though the laughter may have been him…
A press for time is probably the answer, but we have to say, we’d have foregone some of those repeated shots of the rangers or the Dothraki for a split-second look at Dinklage as Tyrion. Perhaps the next teaser, HBO? ;)
So, now that the huge explosion of amazement has happened ... just what did we see in that ultra-fast 20 second trailer?
What follows is our best attempt to look at it frame-by-frame to identify some of the key scenes, now with images thanks to A Song of Ice and Fire forum member thersites (all images © HBO). Suffice it to say, this is probably spoilerish, so read below:
And a special little present… straight to us from HBO, we’ve a second promotional image to compliment the first still!
Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO. Used with permission.
Stunning! HBO has now gone the full court press, with a full website including a web forum. Amazingly exciting.
Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:
Oh, what a tease! What did you think?
Rumors started late last night when HBO tweeted a reminder for viewers to tune into the 8:45 PM pre-show ... and added an unexplained #GOT hash tag. Now they’ve confirmed it via Facebook: our very first aired promotion for Game of Thrones will be among the featured dramas during the pre-show! So, if you have HBO, make sure to tune in to the pre-show preceeding True Blood‘s third season premiere.
According to James Hibberd at The Live Feed, HBO’s Game of Thrones is “not expected” to have a presence at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con, which falls in line with what we’ve heard over here at Westeros.org. This seems to be supported by the lack of reference to the series among the announced panels from HBO (who are certainly featuring True Blood). It also makes some sense, due to the fact that it’s almost a year before the show premieres, and the filming starts very close to the time of the convention—not an ideal time to drag cast and crew from Northern Ireland and North Africa for a whirlwind press junket.
That said, the possibility that teasers or promotional posters might first see the light of day at San Diego Comic-Con certainly exists. If you’re attending the convention next month, we’d certainly suggest visits to HBO’s booth (they’re almost certainly exhibiting), asking some questions, and expressing your enthusiasm for the show.
UPDATE: Maureen Ryan also confirms that HBO’s not holding a panel for the series, given the logistics of having production starting in Northern Ireland at the same time.
Jace Lacob of Televisionary is the first person we’ve seen outside of the production who’s seen the whole of the pilot, and probably one of the last who shall do so in that form as a number of scenes will be reshot to accomadate the new actresses in leading roles, Michaelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark and Emilie Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen.
What’d he think? “I was blown away,” he writes, and has been effusive in his praise for the pilot as being one the strongest pilots he’s seen in the current pilot cycle. Over at Twitter, I decided to ask if he had read the series before, as a number of supportive critics have done. He replied that he had not read the books, wanting to go in fresh, though he had read the pilot script earlier and also loved it. He’s looking forward to seeing how the reshot pilot will look.
The fact that he went in fairly “cold” to the series is a great sign—Lacob probably fairly well represents where your average HBO viewer will be when confronted with this new HBO series. If it works for him, as well as for the producers and executives, then it seems to stand fair odds of working for the general subscriber base.
Update: Video now removed. Given the way these videos come and go, we can’t promise it will be around permanently. But while it’s up, here’s what looks to be like a genuine casting tape for the role of Hodor, intended for Nina Gold who is the casting agent in the U.K. for HBO’s Game of Thrones production:
The hopeful Hodor is Kristian Nairn, a professional DJ according to his MySpace page.
It seems likely that the production for HBO’s Game of Thrones has decided to present the Dothraki culture as a multi-ethnic one, a realization that dawned on us today when an Irish actor of African origin, Yare Jegbefume, revealed on Twitter that he had auditioned for the parts of two Dothraki warriors, Jhogo (one of Daenerys’s guards) and Qotho (one of Drogo’s bloodriders). In retrospect, the fact that many of the wedding dancers that have been noted (such as Kelechi Nwanokwu) were also black should have suggested not that they were supposed to represent slaves from far-flung regions (as we had initially assumed) but that the production was taking this particular course.
Although this does not fit the Dothraki as represented in the books—their appearance being a much more homogenous look, a mix of Native American in regards to their coppery skin and Asian due to their eyes and flatter faces—it sounds like an excellent way to widen the field to find the best possible actors. We can’t wait to see how the Dothraki appear on screen next year!
George R.R. Martin mentions that he’s come back from a convention to some hundred new auditions tapes. He notes some of the roles actors are seeking in the tapes: Rast (one of the recruits on the Wall), Mord (brutish jailer at the Eyrie), Jhogo (one of the Dothraki warriors assigned as personal guard to Daenerys) are among the smaller parts, while Lord Tywin Lannister, Ser Barristan Selmy, and Lysa Arryn are among the larger parts.
We expect that the first casting announcements are likely to come by the end of the month, or early next month, with production set to begin in earnest right around the end of June or start of July.
Some recent reports and finds on the web have helped clarify something of which of the more minor tertiary roles will be cut, reduced, or kept in place in the course of HBO’s adaption of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Lord Ned’s Head reports that at this weekend’s LepreCon convention, GRRM discussed the HBO series as part of a Q&A. He indicated that Syrio Forel remains (he’s written “scenes” for him in episode 8), but that the guardsman Desmond is gone. Other roles, such as Jon Snow’s fellow recruits, may be reduced to just a few line (e.g. Grenn and Pyp) or be cut entirely or be reduced to background characters with no lines (e.g. Toad, Rast, and so on).
raijap tweeted about this webpage for actress Caroline Grace-Cassidy, which states that she auditioned this month (possibly in the recent Dublin auditions?) for the role of the wildling woman, Osha, which certainly suggests that character is planned to be in the series.
It’s interesting to read GRRM’s high praise (there are spoilers) for Tamzin Merchant—formerly cast as Daenerys in the pilot for HBO’s Game of Thrones—and her performance in the fifth episode of the Tudors. It’s very clear that he’s saddened that she will not be continuing on with the series. Obviously, the reasons for Merchant’s departure from Game of Thrones are unknown, and may never be revealed, but it does not seem very likely that it had to do with GRRM (and perhaps other producers?) having any issues with her performance.
No decision has yet been made in casting for Daenerys Targaryen, from what GRRM has recently indicated, but we expect it will be nailed down by the end of the month or, at the latest, the beginning of next month.
GRRM has more remarks to share concerning the ongoing casting process for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Most notably, no one has yet been cast, but they are getting close on some roles, he thinks. He adds that he’s uncertain that he’ll be able to provide hints, as he did for the pilot, but if so he promises to use the Froggy the Gremlin image on those posts to indicateit.
A short snippet from his post follows, naming some of the characters whose audition tapes he’s been reviewing:
“I’ve been looking at many audition tapes. Varys. Littlefinger. Pyp. Grenn. Sam. Ser Gregor. Renly. Bronn. Septa Mordane. Jory. The Old Bear. Even Marillion. And probably some other characters that I’ve forgotten about, writing this off the top of my head.
“Some very hard choices await us. For some parts, a wealth of great possibilities, and no way to go wrong. For others, two or three strong contenders, then it tails off sharply. For a few, we have yet to see anyone who excites us, so the search goes on.”