A friend in Belfast brought to our attention this breaking news from the Belfast Telegraph, revealing that HBO has served notice that it will no longer be holding on to its lease on the sprawling Paint Hall studio complex following the wrapping up of the “Long Night” prequel.
More importantly, however, the article indicates that NI Screen was aware that the House of the Dragon prequel series was definitely or at least unlikely to be filmed in Northern Ireland, which is a shock to some but perhaps not to others:
(Above: A photo from the season 1 set visit, taken in the bowels of the Paint Hall as Bryan Cogman led George R.R. Martin, Parris McBride [the photographer], and I between sets.)
A separate 10-episode Game of Thrones prequel - to air on HBO’s new streaming service - is currently in pre-production but will not be filmed in Belfast, NI Screen chief executive Richard Williams confirmed.
It was known from a relatively early stage that Northern Ireland was not in a position to deliver, in location and other ways, on what was required for the prequel series, provisionally titled House of the Dragon, Mr Williams said.
Obviously, the fact that House of the Dragon is a Targaryen-focused prequel, influenced by material in The World of Ice and Fire and especially Fire & Blood, made it seem to many like Northern Ireland—which provided the majority of Westeros exterior scenes and was home to just about every set, including the massive King’s Landing exterior set built for the final season—is in fact exactly the place needed for locations. We suspect that the “other ways” was the sticking point, particularly if HBO is looking for deeper tax breaks and support than Northern Ireland is able to offer especially in these uncertain post-Brexit times. However, it’s true that over time King’s Landing exteriors were filmed in Malta (first season) or Croatia (all the seasons after, except the 8th we believe) and this show is likely to be King’s Landing-heavy so that may also be a factor.