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?
It seems natural to conclude that the five series were winnowed down to three by HBO. As fans have been noting in response to this post, one clue as to what may have fallen by the wayside is the news that Brian Helgeland is set to write and direct a new film which might suggest he’s moved on from developing a show for HBO.
But what to make of the final image, showing four again? Has HBO decided to bring back one of the two pitches that were removed from consideration? Or are they looking at something else, a late entry into the mix (perhaps a revival of one of the two pitches from GRRM that he said was rejected, which might provide an additional reason for both excitement and being kept busy)? And what does that evocative quote, “The dragon has three heads”, mean in this context? Recently an HBO exec aired concerns about having a show cost either too much _or_ too little. But given the increasing pressure HBO’s rivals—Netflix, Amazon, and even Apple—are placing on the network for subscribers and viewers, might one of the “exciting things going on” be that HBO has pivoted from the prior strong emphasis on just one successor coming to air, and are now looking to have multiple shows at one time?
It would be costly and very, very bold. AMC has managed to have two shows in the Walking Dead franchise, and there’s no reason HBO can’t do that other than their concerns of quality-over-quantity. But having practically year-round Game of Thrones-related shows could lead to subscribers committing to HBO year-round, rather than signing up just for two or three months, which could be appealing: more money locked into HBO, and less money available to their rivals.
It seems likely we’ll be kept in suspense for awhile longer.