HBO Burned Over $42 Million On A Failed ‘Game Of Thrones’ Prequel
— Updated on 29 March 2023

HBO Burned Over $42 Million On A Failed ‘Game Of Thrones’ Prequel

— Updated on 29 March 2023
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Setting aside the decline in storytelling quality towards the end, by in large, the world has only known Game of Thrones as an unstoppable success. It’s to the point a Broadway adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series is currently in the works, while a grand total of two spin-off properties have been officially greenlit (the first scheduled to premiere next year). So imagine our surprise when we learned about the spectacular miscarriage experienced by HBO in the form of a failed Game of Thrones spin-off pilot. A single episode that never saw the light of day… despite costing US$30 million / AU$42 million.

This stunning revelation was outlined in James Andrew Miller’s new book, Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers (via Entertainment Weekly). As some of you may recall hearing, the ill-fated project had been created by George R.R. Martin himself alongside Jane Goldman, director S.J. Clarkson, and led by Naomi Watts. Set a thousand years before the main series, suffice it to say, the premium cable network had banked a whole lot on the untitled prequel becoming a hit. As former Chairman of Warner Media Bob Greenblatt explains, however, the end product was anything but:

"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 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."

RELATED: If You Liked ‘Lord Of The Rings’, You’ll Love Amazon’s ‘Wheel Of Time’

The most valuable lessons are often learned shortly after our greatest mistakes. And from the ashes of the failed Game of Thrones spin-off pilot arose a dragon with far more promise – as well as the potential to recover that hefty eight-figure loss sustained by HBO: the upcoming House of the Dragon. Greenblatt adds:

"I'm the one who encouraged Casey to green light [House of the Dragon[ to series. 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.' 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 nailbiter, but I think the new show that is coming will be incredible."

Taking place 300 years before the main series – not a thousand – House of the Dragon depicts House Targaryen in their glory days, in addition to the Targaryen civil war that set sibling against sibling, dragon against dragon – a historic period immortalised as ‘The Dance of the Dragons’ within Martin’s fictional universe.

HBO House of the Dragon Trailer Game of Thrones Prequel Series

RELATED: The Good News? ‘House Of The Dragon’ Season 3 Has Pretty Much Been Confirmed

George R.R. Martin has returned to serve as showrunner, this time in collaboration with Ryan Condal (ColonyHercules) and Miguel Sapochnik. For reference, Sapochnik is a franchise veteran who most notably directed the original series’ epic season 6 episode 9, commonly referred to as “Battle of the Bastards.” Game of Thrones and Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi has also signed on to work his magic.

“I think it’ll be a really exciting cast, I think it’s a wonderful legacy to be a part of, and a wonderful world, and it’s a great part,” says The Crown star Matt Smith, who portrays Prince Daemon Targaryen.

“And without saying too much, yeah… I’m just sort of looking forward to riding a few dragons.”

As previously mentioned, House of the Dragon is set to premiere on HBO and HBO Max sometime in early 2022 (so you can probably expect it on Australia’s equivalent Binge soon after) – check out the first teaser trailer and casting details below.

House Of The Dragon Cast & Characters

  • King Viserys Targaryen (portrayed by Paddy Considine) 
    “Viserys was chosen by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council in Harrenhal. A warm, kind, and decent man, Viserys only wishes to carry forward his grandfather’s legacy, but good men do not necessarily make for great kings.”
  • Alicent Hightower (portrayed by Olivia Cooke)
    “The daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.”
  • Princess Rahimyar Targaryen (portrayed by Emma D’Arcy) 
    “The king’s first-born child. She is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man.”
  • Prince Daemon Targaryen (portrayed by Matt Smith) 
    “The younger brother of King Viserys and heir to the throne, Daemon is a peerless warrior and a dragonrider who possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air.”
  • Lord Corlys Velaryon AKA “The Sea Snake” (portrayed by Steve Toussaint) 
    “The Lord of House Velaryon, a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen, “The Sea Snake” is the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros. He built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world.”
  • Princess Rhaenys Velaryon (portrayed by Eve Best) 
    “A dragonrider and wife to Lord Corlys Velaryon, “The Queen Who Never Was” was passed over as heir to the throne at the Great Council because the realm favoured her cousin, Viserys, simply for being male.”
  • Otto Hightower (portrayed by Rhys Ifans)
    “The Hand of the King, who loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king’s brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne.”
  • Mysaria (portrayed by Sonoya Mizuno)
    “She came to Westeros with nothing, sold more times than she can recall, and could have wilted… but instead she rose to become the most trusted – and most unlikely – ally of Prince Daemon Targaryen, the heir to the throne.”
  • Ser Criston Cole (portrayed by Fabien Frankel)
    “Of Dornish descent, Ser Criston is the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven. He has no claim to land or titles; all he has to his name is his honour and his preternatural skill with a sword.”

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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