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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As previously mentioned, Linda and I decided to take some time while on our vacation to make a video discussing the Game of Thrones “successors”—the four (or five) in-development concepts that follow-ups to the show. We’ve now finished the series, deciding that three parts was more than sufficien to kick around a dozen or so potential ideas. You can find them all in the playlist embedded below:
HBO has sent out a press release discussing the imminent arrival of Game of Thrones on July 16th, including loglines and titles for the first three episodes. You can read them below, but naturally if you consider episode titles spoilers… well, these are spoilers:
Over at EW, James Hibberd spoke with the executive producers of Game of Thrones, who provided more details on the overall length of the season’s 7 episodes. The big news is that the final episode will be nearly 90 minutes long, with online leaks claiming an as-yet-unconfirmed 81 minute running length. The key quotes can be found below:
James Hibberd at EW has an intersting interview with Casey Bloys, HBO’s President of Programming, regarding the final seasons of Game of Thrones, the potential successor shows, and the involvement (or lack of same) of David Benioff and Dan Weiss in those last. Definitely read the full article, but below are a couple of choice quotes:
EW has seven brand-new photos from the forthcoming Game of Thrones Season 7, including the first look at just how enormous Drogon has gotten this season. (Fair warning: there are spoilers among the images.)
Back in March, one of the new directors to the show, Matt Shankman, remarked to James Hibberd that the dragons are the size of Boeing 747s, and the accompanying picture seems to bear that out.
Over at the “Not a Blog”—which will soon be retired in preference to a new blog, we’re told—George R.R. Martin has taken the time to discuss the recent news that HBO has four pilot scripts in development for a potential successor to Game of Thrones. George’s post is very illuminating, clarifying some details and providing a few hints, as well as a couple of clear and categorical responses.
It’s worth reading, but below are some key points:
As usual, James Hibberd at EW gets the big scoop. We’ve talked before about HBO’s executives confirming that they’re interested in exploring the A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones universe after the series is done, but this is the very first concrete news regarding it. Per Hibberd,
Most of the assigned writers have experience writing major theatrical films, and Martin is personally involved in two of the projects. The show ideas are from Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island, Fox’s Minority Report); Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: First Class) along with Martin; Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale, L.A. Confidential); and Carly Wray (Mad Men) with Martin.
Also, Hibberd confirms Benioff and Weiss will be executive producers on any eventual show(s). It’s not exactly a surprise, however, given that they brought the property to HBO in the first place, so they would retain a stake. It’s pretty clear they will not be showrunners, however.
Some further thoughts below.
HBO has blasted out fifteen new images from the forthcoming 7th season of Game of Thrones, covering a range of the show’s key characters, many of them in their new, black-is-back fashions ahead of what’s likely to be a dark season. You can see the images in our gallery, but here’s a couple of examples to whet the appetite:
Game of Thrones returns to screens on July 16 in the US, July 17 in Europe.
The most notable items, in my view, are that Benioff and Weiss have indicated that the final season of the series will be only 6 episodes long (although one wonders what odds one or more of those episodes will run long), and that they have no plans of being involved in any Game of Thrones spin-off or prequel project HBO may come up with. Also, this upcoming season will feature a cameo from musician Ed Sheeran, who happens to be a huge fan of the show as you can see in the video below.
UPDATE: According to a follow-up report this week, as reported by Göteborg Posten, it looks like HBO has indicated that while it found Gotland very interesting it doesn’t have what they’re looking for and so Game of Thrones wll not be filming there. You can find our original report below:
A curious item out of Gotlands Tidningar caught our eye, as it indicated a production company on Gotland was currently involved in collecting location photos for what we can only assume is early location scouting for season 8 of Game of Thrones.
According to Olivia Munck of The Line, a production and location services company in Gotland, over 300 images have been sent to the production in several batches as different environments and places were requested; these include images of the medieval town of Visby, followed by a second batch of Visby photos with a focus on older or more “aged” environments, and then a batch of photos focused on old farmsteads on Gotland (including Kattlunds and Stavgard).
Visby, which was the center of Hanseatic League for two centuries, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best preserved medieval town in Scandinavia. Its medieval walls stretch for over 2 miles (3 kilometers), it’s packed with ruins of churches and cathedrals (such as St. Nicolai, where Linda and I held a few talks last year). It’s a beautiful, and quite unique, place, which has for over 30 years hosted the famous Medeltidsveckan medieval festival. The rest of Gotland is also dotted with historical sites and sites of archaeological value, and features some beatuiful vistas (as one can see on The Line’s site). And of course, being in Scandinavia, it’s also known to get a good deal of snow which one supposes might be considered useful for the final season of the series.
So, is the production actually going to end up filming in Sweden? Munck was also interviewed by Sveriges Radio after the initial article made the rounds in the press, and there reiterated that she felt the production certainly has some interest in filming there since she doesn’t suppose they would have asked for so many pictures over time if they were writing it off. At the same time, however, she cautioned that nothing was certain at this stage, that no contracts had been signed, and gave it no better than 50/50 odds after citing that Sweden does not have the kind of tax breaks for film productions that Iceland, Spain, Croatia, and other countries where Game of Thrones has filmed previously.
According to Munck, after all these photos the next step for the production (if they continued to be interested) would probably be sending someone over to take a look around in person.