James Andrew Miller’s new book “Tinderbox” explores one of the most venerated brands in the entertainment business, HBO.
Interviewing nearly 1,000 key personnel who’ve worked at or for the network, the book not only explores both how it changed television but also the behind-the-scenes conflicts and secrets that led to some of their biggest decisions.
Understandably “Game of Thrones” gets plenty of coverage and a few days ago came a quote from the book given by author George R. R. Martin’s agent Paul Haas.
Haas revealed that Martin became concerned after the show’s fifth season, when the showrunners ran out of the published books to adapt and the series began to go down a path that diverged from a roadmap he had laid out.
Martin also wanted to get the show expanded to ten seasons of ten episodes as there was enough material for it, but showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff “were done, and wanted to move on”.
Today though has come information from another part of the book about the failed prequel pilot from two years ago. As we know, that pilot was for a show set thousands of years before the events of ‘Thrones’ and was to star Naomi Watts.
The report today from EW has a comment from then WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt who says the network had spent over $30 million on the pilot when he took on his job:
“When I saw a cut of it in a few months after I arrived, I said to [HBO chief content officer] Casey [Bloys], ‘This just doesn’t work and I don’t think it delivers on the premise of the original series.’ And he didn’t disagree, which actually was a relief. So we, unfortunately, decided to pull the plug on it. There was enormous pressure to get it right and I don’t think it would have worked.”
The original “Game of Thrones” famously had a complete overhaul of its pilot, which saw some key recasting. However, that was reshot, whereas the failure of this pilot saw it entirely scrapped.
Instead of wasting another $30 million on another pilot, they instead went straight to series with “House of the Dragon” – a prequel set several centuries earlier during the height of the Targaryen reign. Greenblatt explains why they did that:
“I’m the one who encouraged Casey to green-light it to series. I said, ‘let’s not risk $30 million on a pilot.’ You can’t spend $30 million on a pilot and then not pick it up. So I said, ‘Let’s not make a pilot. Let’s get a great series that we feel good about, and just make it. Or not.’
They made the first pilot because they were protecting their own downside and protecting that brand, which I understand, but it was critical that we somehow continue that franchise and move quickly, which meant getting the series into production ASAP. That’s always a nail-biter, but I think the new show that is coming will be incredible.”
“House of the Dragon” will debut on HBO sometime in 2022.