Game of Thrones

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

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#ForTheThrone Videos Reveal April Premiere Date

HBO has posted two videos, with the hashtag #ForTheThrone, to promote the 8th season. In the process, they confirm expectations that the final season will premiere in April, 2019.

The first is more of a direct tease, a montage of key moments from across the seasons:

The second, with a “spoilers ahead” warning, is actually from “A Golden Crown”, the 6th episode of the first season:

More videos have been published since at the official Game of Thrones Youtube channel. There’s more to the announcement from HBO, incuding special events in New York and Los Angeles, special emojis, and more. See the press release below:

The Long Night Casts Two Leads

We were in the midst of writing up our post about yesterday’s big casting news that the splendid Naomi Watts had been cast for the pilot of the Game of Thrones successor/prequel, tenatively titled The Long Night, when news broke of a second lead actor being announced: Josh Whitehouse, a British actor that fans of Poldark (as we are) will recognize as the romantic, tragic Hugh Armitage.

There’s no information to speak of of Whitehouse’s role in the series, but the EW piece by James Hibberd did share this about Watts’ character:

”[Watts’s character is] a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret.”

“Socialite” has raised eyebrows among fans, as the sort of society that has a “fashionable” or “high” society doesn’t seem like it would fit a Bronze Age-like era as described in the novels. Some interesting thoughts have been put forward, such as her character actually being from Essos and one of the more advanced civilizations that existed there while Westeros was near to barbaric. For my part, I’m guessing that the term is being used very loosely to indicate a character who has made many alliances through personal connections, a “peace-weaver” if you will, after the fashion of the Anglo-Saxon conception of noblewomen binding feuding tribes together through marriage and through their conduct as hostesses and advisors. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Responding to the news, George R.R. Martin weighed in with the expectation that there’d be more announcements soon (as there has been) and the fact that “a couple” of the pitched projects are still being developed, one or more of which may relate to Fire and Blood and its history of the Targaryens from Aegon I to the regency of Aegon III. The word “couple” might well suggest that of the four or five pitches made to HBO, a couple have now fallen by the wayside. Whether this includes Bryan Cogman’s pitch, which we know involved GRRM closely, we do not know but his recently announced overall deal with Amazon does suggest it.

Westeros in Northern Ireland

By some fortuitous timing, HBO went ahead and announced some big news yesterday, namely that they’re establishing Game of Thrones Legacy attracations which will place key sets in place at relevant filming locations in Northern Ireland. This means sets used for Castle Black, Winterfell, and King’s Landing, and perhaps others, will become official attractions. We’ll include the full press release below… but first, our first video from our visit to Northern Ireland the weekend before last, with a couple of Game of Thrones filming locations and some other notable sites along the way. If you have headphones on, beware there’s some noise from water and wind that may need you to turn things down a bit:

Next video will be on the Winterfell Festival itself! And if you missed it, here’s a taste of that, a Q&A with Ian McElhinney.

Now, on to the press release:

Game of Thrones Final Season to Air First Half 2019

Via EW, HBO exec Casey Bloys provided some light at the end of the tunnel for eager Game of Thrones fans, indicating that the final season of the show will be airing in the first half of 2019. Given that in general the show has started airing in March or April, it seems odds are good for the final season to follow suit.

Besides that, Bloys has also clarified earlier reports sourced from the Belfast Telegraph which indicated an October date for the production of Jane Goldman’s pilot for a Game of Thrones prequel/successor show. Bloys indicated that in fact a director has not yet been found (which may put paid to the idea that Goldman’s gotten Matthew Vaughn on board) and that in fact they’re hoping to get the pilot into production early next year. How this fits into the Telegraph’s report of trying to find a window to use the Paint Hall studio facilities is unclear.

HBO’s New Direction and Prequel News

An interesting set of reports from yesterday touch on HBO’s future and the future of Game of Thrones.

First, the Belfast Telegraph reports that allegedly staff at Paint Hall—the massive studio space used by Game of Thrones as its main base of operations for all of its seasons—have been told that the prequel pilot ordered back in June will begin filming this October.

Suffice it to say, if true, this is a very fast production path by HBO standards. By way of comparison, the original Game of Thrones pilot was ordered in November 2008 but filming did not begin until October 2009—almost a full year after. And Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen show had a pilot order in September, and began filming in May, eight months later.

If the Telegraph’s report is accurate, it’ll just be four months from pilot order to pilot shoot. But it’s important to stress that caveat—it’s entirely possible that October will see the beginnings of pre-production, such as set building, location scouting, and costuming, rather than actual filming. What can it mean, however, if this tight deadline really is true?

We have two thoughts on it.

Filming Wraps on Final Season

Reports from over the weekend reveal that the final scenes have been filmed for Game of Thrones season 8, the final season of HBO’s hit fantasy series. It’s been an extraordinarily long shoot, beginning on October 23rd of last year, meaning just over 8 months have gone into filming the last six episodes of the show. Maisie Williams has posted a farewell image on her Instagram which has caused a bit of a stir in and of itself:

Though no air date has been announced, we do know from HBO that the show will not air until 2019.

Details on Prequel Pilot Revealed

Big news today, thanks to EW: HBO has ordered a pilot to be filmed of one of the several successor shows that have been in development, and we have a lot of details to go with it.

Copyright Marc Simonetti and Random House

The pilot will be from Jane Goldman, who has previously given hints about what she was working on. And the new report shows that yes indeed, there’ll be magical creatures of some kind in her work…

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. And only one thing is for sure: From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the white walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend… it’s not the story we think we know.

While some fans mused going that far back, we admit, it was something we considered quite unlikely because it’d surely give a vastly different feel to the setting. But HBO seems to have been quite intrigued. And, as the EW article notes, this doesn’t necessarily mean HBO is done with pilot orders, as the article notes, “[s]ources say the other four prequel ideas are still under consideration.”

It should be stressed this is a pilot order, rather than a greenlight straight to series. HBO is known for being careful with productions, and often ordering pilots, many of which never end up being made. But it’s another step closer for there being some sort of Game of Thrones spinoff in 2020 or later.

 

 

The Gremlin Returns

In his latest “Not a Blog” post, George R.R. Martin has posted a cryptic message featuring Froggy the Gremlin, which means he’s having fun presenting a puzzle to fans. Given the television tag in the post, and the reference to the dragon having three heads, thoughts certainly turn to his presenting some new information regarding HBO’s follow-ups to Game of Thrones.

As we know, originally four concepts were being developed by Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Carly Wray, and Brian Helgeland—but early on George hinted at a 5th pitch, which came to pass when HBO announced that Game of Thrones writer and producer Bryan Cogman was also working on a proposal with George.

That seems to easily explain the first two sets of images: Four series became five. As to the rest?

HBO Exec on Final Season and Prequel Budget

Reports in the entertainment press have brought attention to remarks from HBO executives at the INTV Conference that have touched on Game of Thrones. Variety reports that Francesca Orsi—the HBO’s senior VP for Drama—promised that the final season of the show will be a satisfying climax, including the anecdote that cast members at the table read of the six scripts openly wept and that there were “15 or 20 minutes” of applause when the last page was read.

HBO Confirms 2019 for Final Season

A brief press release from HBO has confirmed what has long been understood: the final, 6-episode season of Game of Thrones will not air until 2019.

Here’s the press release in full:

Your readers may be interested to know that the hit HBO series GAME OF THRONES will return for its six-episode, eighth and final season in 2019.

Directors for the new season are: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, David Nutter and Miguel Sapochnik. Writers for the new season are: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill.

Season seven credits: The executive producers of GAME OF THRONES are David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Carolyn Strauss, Frank Doelger and Bernadette Caulfield; co-executive producers, Bryan Cogman, Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis and George R.R. Martin.

Final Season Budget Rumors

Thanks to an article over at Variety discussing the minutae of high-end television budgets, a new detail regarding the budget for the final six episodes of Game of Thrones is making the rounds. According to the piece, HBO is expecting to spend $15 million per episode, which would be the highest amount spent per-episode on the series to date.

The article goes on to talk about why shows are costing so much, as well as raising the question as to whether a $20 million-per-episode series may eventually happen. This is not really a new situation, though, if one looks at limited series. Most recently, The Pacific from HBO cost some $20 million per episode across its 10 episodes; adjusting for inflation, in fact the price tag is closer to $22.5 million per episode. That was very much an “event” series, from the same people who had put together the exceptional Band of Brothers, but suffice it to say that if HBO was willing to countenance then, it should be no surprise they’re willing to countenance it now.

If anything, the $15 million price tag that Variety talks about feels a little low, since rumors have pegged season 6 episodes at averaging $10 million, while cinematographer Robert McLachlan implied that season 7 had a similar overall budget—i.e., approximately $14.28 million per episode on average. A 5% increase in budget doesn’t seem that noteworthy. On the other hand, it’s always possible that the reporting is mistaken, or that the particular numbers thrown about are merely very conservative estimates. We would not be surprised to hear of a much higher figure after filming is underway or wraps.

Final Season Directors Announced

From a report on EW, HBO has revealed the directors of the final six episodes of Game of Thrones. They’re all familiar names: Miguel Sapochnik, David Nutter, and David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. The showrunners, who are also writing four of the final six episodes, will be directing the finale.

James Hibberd goes into more detail, and in particular provides speculation as to how episodes will be divyed up, with rumors suggesting Sapochnik may direct three of the episodes.

Cogman Developing 5th Prequel Series

HBO has just announced that long-time series writer and producer Bryan Cogman is the fifth writer behind on the successors. EW’s James Hibberd has what details there are to be had, but understandably HBO are tight-lipped about just what ideas are being developed. A couple of months ago, Linda and I recorded videos discussing some of the areas of Martin’s world and its history that might be of interest.

Of all the writers involved in developing these successor shows, Cogman is unique in being the only one to have worked on the series, and has done so from the start—even back to the original pilot, when he was assistant to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Game of Thrones to Film Multiple Endings

News spread last night of a talk Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming, held at Moravian College. According to reports, Bloys indicated that in a bid to mitigate the leaks that have plagued the show the last few seasons, the producers had decided to write and film multiple endings to attempt to hide the real ending. According to the report at EW, the showrunners have previously indicated that they’re going to new heights to attempt to prevent leaks for the final season, and this seems to be just one of a number of techniques they’ll be using.

Alternate endings created to prevent leaks is not new to television, with shows as varied as 24, Lost, The Simpsons, and fellow HBO show Sex and the City having used the stratagem. As to whether these efforts will be successful when it comes to Game of Thrones? Only time will tell.

Screenwriter Talks Game of Thrones Successor

IGN has an interesting interview with Jane Goldman, one of the four (or five) writers working on ideas for a successor series to HBO’s Game of Thrones. In the course of the interview, Goldman’s quite cagey, but she does share just a little bit of information that provides some additional parameters for what her pitch is.