HBO Figuring Out How to Go All-In on Game of Thrones Spinoffs

While we don’t yet know what parts of Westeros the Game of Thrones successor shows (the preferred term to “prequels” or “spinoffs”) will explore, HBO might want to delve deeper into the Iron Bank, because all they’re talking about right now is budget budget budget. At the “Best of HBO” panel at the INTV conference in Israel, HBO senior VP of drama Francesca Orsi and HBO programming president Casey Bloys discussed how any potential successor series would demand a larger budget than the early days of Thrones: “$50 million [per season] would never fly for what we are trying to do,” Orsi said. “We are going big.” That means fans can expect whichever of the five successor show the network chooses to be appropriately epic.

Speaking to the rising costs of various high-end drama series, Bloys said, “As a show goes on they get more expensive and as shows get more ambitious they will get more expensive. More money doesn’t always equal better but in some cases the scope of ideas do require it.”

With the per-episode budget having reportedly expanded from $6 million to $15 million by the series’ end next year, it contextualizes further explorations into George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series within the realm of business decisions. Orsi didn’t have any particular updates about the successor shows, first announced almost a year ago: HBO is developing three to five projects by a bevy of writers, including Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island), Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class), Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale), Carly Wray (Mad Men), and Martin himself. The series would explore different time periods of Westeros but would all be prequels instead of sequels. We’ve got some ideas of what they could delve into, from the Dance of Dragons to the Black Pearl herself.

As Martin explained, HBO’s plan is to to produce a number of the pilot scripts and then see which have the potential for an entire series. While there is always the chance that they could choose none of the series, this conversation would make it sound as if they are very much leaning toward yes on at least one.

“When we were in Belfast in October,” Orsi explained, referencing the table reads of the final-season scripts, “Casey said ‘it feels like corporate malfeasance’ to not continue it, which is why it’s spawned three, four, five Game of Thrones spin-offs.” She added that budget would certainly serve as a “conundrum” depending on which series gets chosen: “There is a conundrum if we do take off on one of these Game of Thrones spin-offs, where do we start? We can’t obviously start with the budget of season 8, but would it be a Game of Thrones season three budget?”

The final season of Game of Thrones airs sometime in 2019. Any successor show would not air until 2020 at the earliest; speaking at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in January, Bloys said, “[A]ny sort of pilot-to-series [order], there’s not going to be anything on our air for a least a year after Game of Thrones airs. We’re not using the final season to launch a new show or anything like that. There’s going to be a separation between the two.”


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