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Axed ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel with a Multi-Million Dollar Pilot


Axed ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel with a Multi-Million Dollar Pilot

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Having immersed myself in plenty of TV and movies, I’ve learned that networks often capitalize on successful shows to the fullest extent. One such example is Game of Thrones, the HBO blockbuster that held viewers captive for a remarkable eight years. The franchise was extensively merchandised, with HBO exploring every conceivable product and spin-off opportunity. Surprisingly, a prequel was not part of the plan, despite efforts made in that direction.

In a conversation detailed in his upcoming book, Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, journalist James Andrew Miller delved into discussions with former WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt regarding Game of Thrones, particularly the terminated pilot episode for a prequel series.

“Over $30 million was already invested in a Game of Thrones prequel pilot that was in production when I assumed my role,” he disclosed. “After viewing a rough cut a few months later, I expressed my concerns to Casey, stating, ‘This simply isn’t effective, and it fails to live up to the original series’ promise.’ To my relief, his reaction was concurrence rather than disagreement.”

Rumors of various Game of Thrones prequels had circulated as far back as 2017, but crafting a story worthy of the original’s immense popularity proved to be a monumental challenge.

“Regrettably, we chose to abandon the project,” Greenblatt clarified. “The pressure to achieve excellence was immense, and I believe the outcome would have fallen short of expectations.”

The completed prequel pilot was mothballed in 2019, signaling an end to prequel plans, although spin-offs like Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon are still underway.

“I advocated for Casey to greenlight it as an ongoing series,” Greenblatt shared, in reference to HBO’s chief content officer Casey Bloys. “I advised, ‘Let’s not stake $30 million on a pilot.’ It’s imprudent to allocate such a substantial sum to a pilot without guaranteeing its continuation. So, I proposed, ‘Let’s bypass the pilot phase, and focus on producing a superior series that we can stand behind, or not’.”

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