HBO’s canceled Game of Thrones spinoff series, The Long Night, cost nearly $30 million for just the pilot episode before being axed, according to a former executive. The television giant green-lit at least three new spinoff series announced after the end of their immensely popular fantasy epic. Fans expected a surge of new stories as HBO attempted to capitalize on the original series’ massive success.
“They had spent over $30 million on a ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel pilot that was in production when I got there,” said former WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt. He recently sat down with James Andrew Miller, author of Tinderbox, a new book detailing the history of the HBO.
“When I saw a cut of [the pilot],” he continued, “I said to [Casey Bloys, HBO’s chief content officer], ‘This just doesn’t work and I don’t think it delivers on the promise of the original series.’ And he didn’t disagree, which actually was a relief.”
For some fans, the controversial ending of the TV series was already seen as HBO stretching. Though executives were given notes about how the novels would end – since George R.R. Martin has yet to finish writing them – many fans felt as if the television series’ ending was rushed.
“I wish it had run for ten years,” George R.R. Martin said in Tinderbox, regarding HBO’s rushed ending. “I think that would’ve given us a little more time in the later seasons to end it… But that might be just because I’m still trying to end it in these books here.”
So, what was The Long Night about, and why would it have not done the original series justice?
The GOT spinoff, which was written by Kingsman‘s Jane Goldman and starred Naomi Watts, was originally supposed to take place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones. The Long Night would have answered the many questions fans speculate and theorize upon, such as deepening the lore of the Stark and Lannister feuds, revealing the true origins of the White Walkers, and showcasing the fantasy world’s “Golden Age of Heroes.”
Given the go-ahead all the way back in June 2018 when it was titled Bloodmoon, the series was scrapped in Oct. 2019. Unfortunately, the secrets revealed are mere whispers, nothing like the mysteries that would have been unveiled if The Long Night was completed.
“We unfortunately decided to pull the plug on it,” former chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “There was enormous pressure to get it right and I don’t think that would have worked.”
House of the Dragon, another similar GoT prequel series starring The Crown and Doctor Who actor Matt Smith is still scheduled to release in 2022. Though little is known about the series outside of its name and focus on the Targaryen family’s past, the show might just end up incorporating the better parts of The Long Night into its plan following the other series’ departure.
Miguel Sapochnik, director of many fan-favorite episodes such as “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter,” is planned to serve as co-showrunner for the series. Likely to feature the age of the dragons, House of the Dragon‘s budget was likely massive, and HBO simply couldn’t support two shows working toward the same goal.
Yet a third spinoff series, based on George R.R. Martin’s short story collection Tales of Dunk and Egg, is also rumored to be in production. A Broadway play about a great tournament is expected for 2023, and maybe Martin will finish writing The Winds of Winter sometime in the next five years, as well.
In Tinderbox, George R.R. Martin said that “hopefully I’m going to get to that end soon and then people can argue about which ending they like better.”