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Northern Ireland and Game of Thrones

Variety has a very interesting report on film and television production in Northern Ireland which touches on HBO’s Game of Thrones, and includes some interesting facts and figures. As we’ve previously discussed, the show’s budget has always been impressive, probably in the top quintile of all of HBO’s regular hour-long dramas (Rome certainly being at the very top end), but it seems it may have been even bigger than we were led to believe.

As we guessed, word had it the show would have a ~$45 million budget, but this is the first thing Variety has to say about the show:

HBO’s $60 million fantasy series…

That’s 33% higher than the earlier estimate. Variety, the leading trade paper for the industry, probably has better sources than we do, so we think this may be nearer the mark. Where’d all the extra expense come from? We’ve a few ideas… The heavy reshooting of the original pilot, for example (so much of a reshoot that director Tom McCarthy believes very little of his work remained), and the elaborate Castle Black outdoor set would be a part of that.

Beyond that, the article goes on to mention some more details along these lines, including the fact that the production spent"more than” $30 million in Northern Ireland, which more or less fits our earlier reporting. According to the article, the production employed over 550 crew, some 80% of whom were hired locally, including two department heads and director Brian Kirk.  It sounds like this and other productions have very much energized the Northern Irish film and television industry.

Last but not least, the article states:

With HBO now gearing up for a second season of “Game of Thrones,” the Paint Hall looks set to be fully occupied for the foreseeable future. NIS is pushing ahead with plans to build two new soundstages alongside this summer, so there will be a suitable space to attract smaller-scale productions as well.

“The Paint Hall is not perfect—there’s no central heating, and it’s not properly sound-proofed. But if you’re building mammoth sets, it works really well, and it’s very convenient for the city center and the airport, which are five minutes away,” says Mark Huffam, the Belfast-based producer of both “Your Highness” and “Game of Thrones.”

Take “gearing up” with a grain of salt. We’ve had word for a long while that low-level work has to be done, in preparation in case the production is greenlit, but it’s nothing that cannot be called off. In fact, we’ve ever heard that a prospective date for the start of shooting this summer has been noted to some production heads, but again, that’s all for establishing preparation timelines so that the production can get into gear if the greenlight comes.

 

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