HBO “spent over $30million” on axed ‘Game Of Thrones’ prequel spin-off

Naomi Watts was set to star in the series before it was cancelled in 2019

A pilot episode for a scrapped Game Of Thrones prequel spin-off series is believed to have cost HBO over $30million (£22.5million) to make.

The untitled spin-off, led by Naomi Watts, was set thousands of years before Game Of Thrones and featured distant ancestors of House Stark and House Lannister.

After filming a pilot episode, the series was cancelled in October 2019. This was followed by the announcement that a new spin-off, House Of Dragon, had been ordered for a full series – based on the George R.R. Martin book Fire & Blood.

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In a new book Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit Of New Frontiers (via Entertainment Weekly) by James Andrew Miller, former WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt described why the series was pulled.

Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts was set to star in the prequel series CREDIT: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

“They had spent over $30million on a Game Of Thrones prequel pilot when I got there,” Greenblatt says. “And 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.”

Greenblatt also takes credit for the decision to green-light House Of Dragon for a full series, which was pushed forward to avoid the high costs of another potentially failed pilot.

“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,” Greenblatt said.

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“That’s always a nail-biter, but I think the new show that is coming will be incredible.”

Set 300 years before the timeline of Game Of Thrones, House Of Dragon follows the rise of House Targaryen and is scheduled to be released in 2022.

The show’s cast includes Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Sonoya Mizuno, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best and Fabien Frankel.

A bunch of unconfirmed Game Of Thrones spin-offs are believed to be in the works, including three animated shows. One is reported to focus on the Golden Empire of Yi Ti, which is explored briefly in Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire novels.

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