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Licensing Game of Thrones

We’ve been covering HBO’s series of trademark applications for Game of Thrones pretty closely, and decided to follow-up on two points.

First, as we noted in our earlier articles, initially HBO applied for trademarks using the title A Game of Thrones. Last week, however, the A Game of Thrones mark applications have been officially amended to just Game of Thrones, without the article.

Second, the question has come up on occasion regarding just how HBO exercises these marks, as they’re not a manufacturer. The answer is that these trademarks are licensed to those who do produce such content. Case in point, the smash-hit True Blood, which has led the licensing charge at HBO. At Toy Fair 2010, DC Direct exhibited character busts and a neon bar sign for the show. Of course, DC Direct and HBO are both under the Time Warner umbrella, so it’s no great surprise DC Direct would land these particular licenses.

If Game of Thrones goes forward and proves to be a success for HBO, fans can expect the same sort of licensing treatment.

More Trademarks

HBO is keeping the U.S. trademark office busy, as we’ve previously reported. Now four new trademark classes have been applied for and entered into the USPTO database for February 9th, which theoretically cover things such as non-alcoholic beverages, jewelery, replica weapons, toys, and games.

Speaking of replica weapons, note that on January 16, GRRM noted in a response to questions that the production’s weapons would be designed specifically for the show, and that Valyrian Steel’s designs would not be used as previously proposed. However, as GRRM has previously noted, part of the negotiations with HBO involved negotiating which rights could not be used by them because of other licensing; only Valyrian Steel can create steel replicas, so HBO’s license extends only to cheaper, plastic toy replicas at this time.

Many thanks for Ninepenny at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum for keeping on top of the trademarking activities.

Tom McCarthy: Hollywood Renaissance Man

At the Guardian, Danny Leigh opines that Thomas McCarthy—whose work on the Game of Thrones pilot will help set the visual style for the series to follow if HBO greenlights it—is a “Hollywood Renaissance Man” whose “triple threat” of skillful direction, acting, and scriptwriting makes him a rare talent in this day and age. It’s a well-written opinion piece, and discusses some of the thematic touchstones of McCarthy’s previous directorial efforts.

Jack Gleeson Clip

This clip from an award-winning short independent film features Jack Gleeson, cast in the role of Joffrey in HBO’s Game of Thrones pilot. We’ve seen very little in the way of recent film or publicity stills for Gleeson, so this is a particularly useful video for those wanting a better idea of what the young actor:

(Thanks to The Rabbit and @WiC_Blog for pointing this one out!)

Dinklage on Tyrion

There’s a profile of Peter Dinklage due to his role in an upcoming comedic film. In it, he discusses his views on playing roles which focus too much on the character being a dwarf. He adds that there are certainly great roles written for dwarves, and it seems that Tyrion Lannister may have come up in that context:

‘It would entail me being lazy, and I’m not interested in that,” he says. “It just becomes uninteresting for me and I think it becomes uninteresting for an audience.” Having said that, he notes: “There are great roles that are written for dwarves.”

‘That would include his current project, a planned HBO series called Game of Thrones, based on the popular fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Dinklage plays the diminutive Tyrion Lannister in the pilot episode.’

Thanks to Ninepenny at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum for noting this item.

And Another Nomination…

Tom McCarthy, director of HBO’s pilot for Game of Thrones, joins Robert Stromberg in the Oscars race. McCarthy was one of a number of individuals credited for the story of Pixar’s Up, which is a nominee for Best Original Screenplay.

More Plaudits for Stromberg

The visual effects supervisor to the Game of Thrones pilot from HBO, Robert Stromberg, has been cleaning up of late in award seasons as previously reported. The streak continues, as he and Rick Carter have been nominated for an Academy Award in Art Direction thanks to their work on James Camerons’ blockbuster Avatar.

UPDATED: Game of Thrones Screening

It seemed likely the rough cut screening Michael Lombardo spoke of at TCA two weeks ago has taken place by now, and we have as-yet unconfirmed reports that the rough cut was possibly screened at HBO’s New York offices. One person who saw some parts of the footage in HBO’s editorial offices has stated that it looked very good, and the show seemed to have terrific production values and good acting.

However, we’ve since had suggestions sent our way that the rough cut has not been completed, so that no screening would have taken place.

Harry Lloyd Strikes Again

It’s a busy time for Harry Lloyd, cast as Viserys Targaryen in HBO’s pilot, as he gives interviews to publicize his role in the play, The Little Dog Laughed. In his latest interview, he makes an interesting reference to his audition for the pilot:

‘Lloyd may be seen on screens more often if the American pilot he recently filmed is picked up. Game Of Thrones is based on fantasy author George RR Martin’s series A Song Of Ice And Fire and sees Lloyd play the Beggar King Viserys Targaryen opposite a host of British acting talent.

He describes the process of getting the part as: “One of those auditions which you have every now and again for some big American TV series and you’re like ‘Great, thanks.’ You go in and put yourself on tape and send it off and you’ll never hear about it. So I went in and slightly took the p**s with this character, had a bit of fun with it. They loved it.”’

“Took the p**s”? Certainly interesting. On the one hand, one could be very apprehensive that the casting director and producers loved an over-the-top, camp take on Viserys. On the other, it may just be that what Harry Lloyd considers “slightly [taking] the p**s” amounts to an exciting interpretation of the character. Only time (and HBO) will tell if we get to find out.

Harry Lloyd on Accents

The Telegraph has a brief article which features a quote from Harry Lloyd. When mentioning that Game of Thrones is “next” for him, Tim Walker goes on to write:

‘An American accent will not required. “It’s an unspoken rule that if you’re American, you can’t hold a sword,” the amiable actor [Harry Lloyd] tells me. “It’ll be like Lord of the Rings. Everyone will do a non-accent. It will be great fun.’

Big Love Gives Insight

The L.A. times has an interview with Will Scheffer, co-creator of HBO’s original drama series, Big Love, which started airing its fourth season recently. Reading it, I found that some of the topics discussed have some potential implications for how similar issues will be handled for Game of Thrones if HBO’s orders a season. Salient quotes below:

Momoa the Barbarian

Jason Momoa has been cast as Conan the Barbarian in the upcoming film set to begin shooting in March, according to Nikke Finke of Deadline Hollywood. This production should pose no difficulties for Momoa’s role as Khal Drogo should HBO order a season of Game of Thrones, as the production is not likely to start up shooting earlier than April or May of this year, and scenes set in the Dothraki Sea may well be scheduled for later in the production.

VFX Supervisor in Avatar Feature

Robert Stromberg, the visual effects supervisor for the Game of Thrones pilot, appears very briefly in this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the creation of James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar. Stromberg served as production designer on the film, and as the film awards season has started his work has been getting serious attention, with a win at the Critic’s Choice Awards and a nomination in the Art Director’s Guild awards (along with Rick Carter) to kick it off.

Stromberg speaks at the 4:15 mark in this video. Blink and you’ll miss it:

Additional Trademark

HBO has added a new trademark class to HBO, to follow up on the several ranges of merchandise it’s previously applied for. This time around, the trademark—filed January 13th—covers, “Resin figurines; key fobs not of metal; non-metal key chains and key rings; mirrors; picture frames; pillows; plastic sculptures; slumber bags; sleeping bags; toy chests; household goods; all the aforementioned goods featuring content from or related to a television series.” Like the Class 021 trademark filing renewed in December, this one is specifically for “Game of Thrones”, as opposed to the earliest filings which were for “A Game of Thrones”.

General opinion is such trademark activity is standard procedure at HBO these days, and should not be taken to imply that HBO’s definitely intending to go forward with a series based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Tom McCarthy’s Next Project

The Daily Record writes about director Tom McCarthy—who directed the pilot for HBO’s Game of Thrones—and his next project, a high school wrestling film titled Win Win which he has written. One aspect covered in some detail in the article is that McCarthy has stated that he’s looking to cast “real people”, and that the lead for the film may well be someone with no previous acting experience. At the end of the article, McCarthy is noted as indicating that, “he had a positive experience casting ‘real people’ when filming the series The Game of Thrones for HBO in England.”

Erroneous title and locations details aside, it’s interesting that McCarthy cites Game of Thrones as a positive experience in regard to casting “real people”. The article does also note that the Win Win shoot will run about seven weeks, from early March into April, so it’s not impossible that if the series is picked up, McCarthy may return to direct one or more additional episodes.

Thanks to maxlongstreet at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum for the pointer.