Prior to the announcement of the Game of Thrones spinoff series House of Dragon, HBO scrapped an untitled series based on the GoT franchise after casting for the show and filming the pilot episode. Now, a new book called Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers by James Andrew Miller details that the canceled series cost a whopping $30 million USD to produce, according to Insider.
“They had spent over $30 million on a Game of Thrones prequel pilot when I got there,” former Warner Media chairman Bob Greenblatt said in the book. “And when I saw a cut of it in a few months after I arrived, I said to [HBO's 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 series was written by Jane Goldman and starred Naomi Watts (The Ring), Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter), Naomi Ackie (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) and George Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia). The plot centered around Westeros’ evolution from the “Age of Heroes” to “The Long Night” thousands of years prior to the events in the original series.
Following the series’ cancellation, Bloys spoke with Deadline about the company’s decision. “In development, in pilots, sometimes things come together, sometimes they don’t,” he said early last year. “One of the things I think Jane took on beautifully, which was a challenge, there was a lot more role creation because she set hers 8,000 years before the [original] show, so it required a lot more. That is a big swing. One of the things about House of Dragons, there is a text, there is a book so that made it a little bit more of a road map for a series order.”
In Tinderbox, Greenblatt says that he encouraged Bloys to greenlight House of Dragos, which is now slated to premiere in 2022.
“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,’” he said. “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.”