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Game of Thrones to Film in Northern Ireland for “Next Few Years”?

Today, two columnists for the UK’s The Guardian newspaper have named HBO’s A Game of Thrones among 2011’s best dramas (as well they should)... but it was a third article referencing A Game of Thrones that caught our attention.

Irish correspondent Henry McDonald writes that the Northern Irish film industry is “booming”, and that it’s fuelled predominantly by HBO’s series choosing to film there. It’s an interesting look at the industry side of things, and some impressive numbers are thrown around.

And then, at the end, this:

“Game of Thrones, however, remains the anchor project for Northern Ireland’s burgeoning film industry and it is understood that, after the second series is completed, filming will resume there in the next few years.”

It seems safe to suppose that “in the next few years” should be understood as “for the next few years”. But it’s the plural that’s interesting. Given the interviews that the reporter conducted for his quotes, did some of the Northern Irish industry insiders reveal confidence that Game of Thrones is a lock for filming there for multiple additional seasons? We’ve all heard the rumors that HBO might opt to order seasons three and four, rumors that we’re told are fairly rife among members of cast and crew, although no one has really pinpointed a source. But where there’s smoke…

We certainly won’t know for sure what the plan is for Game of Thrones until after the second season premiere, when HBO decides to announce a pick-up for an additional season (or more), but expect to start hearing more references like the above in the run-up to April, especially as key crew members start returning to work to prepare for filming to resume in the summer.

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