The lion's share of the show's pilot was later re-shot
Hollywood screenwriter Craig Mazin has recalled watching an early version of Game Of Thrones‘ pilot episode and thinking it was a “complete piece of s**t”.
Mazin, whose screenwriting credits include both The Hangover sequels and the 2013 Melissa McCarthy comedy Identity Thief, was given an early viewing of the pilot by his friends David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, who created the TV series based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels.
Fellow Hollywood screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels) was also at the screening and during an appearance on the February 2 instalment of August and Mazin’s Scriptnotes podcast, Weiss recalled: “Watching them watch that original pilot was one of the most painful experiences of my life. As soon as it finished, Craig said, ‘You guys have a massive problem.'”
“I was taking notes,” Benioff added. “And I just remembered writing in all caps, ‘massive problem,’ and it’s all I could think about the rest of the night. Craig didn’t really have any great ideas except that he said, ‘Change everything’.”
The lion’s share of the pilot episode was then re-shot by a different director, and during the podcast Mazin admitted that he was taken back by how much Benioff and Weiss had improved the show’s opening.
“I will never forget being invited to the premiere of the first season. I went in just thinking, ‘Well, I guess we’ll just see how this goes.’ I sat there and this show unfolds and I am stunned. Stunned,” Mazin recalled.
“And I very specifically remember walking out and I said to [co-creators Weiss and Benioff]: ‘That is the biggest rescue in Hollywood history.’ Because it wasn’t just that they had saved something bad and turned it really good. You had saved a complete piece of sh*t and turned it into something brilliant. That never happens!”