With the end of Game of Thrones looming, HBO quickly put into motion plans for multiple spin-offs. At one point, as many as five were in various stages of production, and the first one out of the gate was an untitled series set thousands of years before the events of GoT, and starring Naomi Watts. But it was cancelled before it could see the light of day.
“After careful consideration, we have decided not to move forward to series with the Untitled Game of Thrones prequel,” the network said in a 2019 statement. “We thank (showrunner and screenwriter) Jane Goldman, (director) SJ Clarkson, and the talented cast and crew for all of their hard work and dedication.” In addition to Watts, the series was supposed to star Miranda Richardson and Josh Whitehouse.
While HBO didn’t provide any further reasons behind the cancellation, a couple of trade outlets reported that the network wasn’t pleased with what it saw. According to Deadline, the decision was taken “after a lengthy post-production … and rumors about issues during filming in Northern Ireland.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Sources say HBO wasn’t thrilled with the final cut of the Watts–led pilot and asked for changes in edits before scrapping the entire thing.” Entertainment Weekly, meanwhile, said that the decision to axe the show was made weeks before it was announced to the world.
HBO had even shared a synopsis for the potential series: “Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend, only one thing is for sure: It’s not the story we think we know.”
But only a few days later, HBO announced a direct-to-series order for another spin-off, titled House of the Dragon. The series, co-created by George RR Martin and Ryan Condal, will tell the story of House Targaryen and take place 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones.
The series is co-created by @GRRMSpeaking and Ryan Condal. Miguel Sapochnik will partner with Condal as showrunner and will direct the pilot and additional episodes. Condal will be writing the series. pic.twitter.com/9ttMzElgXm
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) October 29, 2019
Reacting to both announcements on his blog, Martin had written, “It goes without saying that I was saddened to hear the show would not be going to series. Jane Goldman is a terrific screenwriter, and I enjoyed brainstorming with her. I do not know why HBO decided not to go to series on this one, but I do not think it had to do with House of the Dragon.”
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