Cancelled Game of Thrones prequel with completed $30 million pilot: When was series set?

House of the Dragon: Trailer for brand new series

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Being one of the most successful TV shows ever, it was only a matter of time before HBO announced a Game of Thrones spin-off. In 2018, a year before the original series finished, a pilot was commissioned with Jane Goldman as showrunner on what author George RR Martin referred to as The Long Night.

Naomi Watts’ lead was described as “a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret”. The doomed Game of Thrones prequel series also featured Josh Whitehouse, Toby Regbo, Ivanno Jeremiah, Georgie Henley, Naomi Ackie, Denise Gough, Jamie Campbell Bower, Sheila Atim, Alex Sharp, Miranda Richardson, Marquis Rodriguez, John Simm, Richard McCabe, John Heffernan, and Dixie Egerickx.”

Yet by October 2019, after the original show had concluded, HBO stunned fans by announcing they wouldn’t be going ahead with the new series despite having already filmed a first episode costing millions.

Former chairman of WarnerMedia Bob Greenblatt spoke out on The Long Night aka Bloodmoon in James Andrew Miller’s Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers.

He admitted: “They had spent over $30 million on a Game of Thrones prequel pilot when I got there. And when I saw a cut of it 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.”

As a result, the same day the show was cancelled, HBO announced House of the Dragon instead, going to full series without a pilot in order to avoid further financial loss.

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Greenblatt added: “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.”

Certainly, House of the Dragon has proven much less of a gamble given that the storyline, set 200 years before Game of Thrones, is exactly that: literally another game of thrones but earlier in the timeline.

The first episode’s almost 10 million viewers is HBO’s highest-rated series premiere ever and goes to prove that what audiences want is more of the same but different – much like other successful franchises. So what was so different about Bloodmoon?

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Bloodmoon would have been totally different and set around 10,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones in Westeros’ Age of Heroes, a period of peace, began following the forging of the Pact between the First Men and the children of the forest.

Major events in the books’ timeline during this period included the foundation of the powerful Houses, and the Long Night when the White Walkers first marched down into Westeros.

Additionally, the Andal Invasion took place when the Andals crossed the sea from Essos and conquered most of Westeros. And Bran the Builder constructed the Wall and Winterfell.

House of the Dragon is streaming now on NOW.

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