A spinoff prequel to HBO's smash hit Game of Thrones was in the works for quite a while, putting together an all-star cast (led by Naomi Watts), tackling a brand new era in the history of Westeros, and expanding the universe plenty of fans still love despite the divisive end to Game of Thrones earlier this year. Unfortunately, the prequel has now been officially scrapped. The shocking news of the cancellation comes with reports that production on the pilot wasn't going smoothly. Here's what we know.
Executives at HBO apparently screened the pilot, which had been fully filmed, over the summer, and TVLine states that they weren't happy with the finished product and sent showrunner Jane Goldman back to fix some issues. The Game of Thrones pilot way back before its premiere in 2011 had its fair share of issues as well, but unlike that pilot, the one for the spinoff prequel didn't make it to the airwaves. Sources reportedly state that the pilot was "troubled" by budget overruns, personnel problems, and creative differences.
News of the cancellation of the project will undoubtedly come as a shock to many, not least because any series set in the Game of Thrones universe seems like it would be a hit for HBO no matter what. The end of Game of Thrones may not have been universally popular, but it's hard to imagine a prequel -- especially in the hands of somebody fresh -- wouldn't attract a big audience. The troubles with the pilot may have been considerable, or else HBO has some very specific guidelines in mind for the next Thrones project.
This prequel getting the axe does seem to raise the odds of the Targaryen spinoff project that was announced as in development back in September getting a series order. That project, which has yet to receive a title, would be at least partly based on George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood book that fleshed out the history of the early Targaryen dynasty.
Interestingly, the Targaryen project would be a prequel like the Naomi Watts spinoff would have been; the setting just won't be the Age of Heroes ahead of its darkest hour, which presumably meant the advance of the White Walkers from the far North the first time around.
So many details about a series that was only in development may be a sign that the Naomi Watts-led prequel was doomed to get the axe months ago. HBO is reportedly likely to move forward with the Targaryen spinoff. It was co-created by George R.R. Martin and Colony's Ryan J. Condal, and has earned a pilot order from the premium cable giant.
Readers of the Blood & Fire book (who may have picked it up while waiting for the day when The Winds of Winter finally releases) know that a series revolving around the early Targaryens in Westeros likely means a lot of blond-on-blonde incest, but when has incest ever stopped Game of Thrones fans from tuning in?
That this spinoff would be based on source material from George R.R. Martin at least bodes well, as Game of Thrones was arguably better back before showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss outpaced the novels in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga.
As somebody who has read Blood & Fire, I can safely say that there is plenty of Targaryen history that can be covered in a prequel series long before the show catches up to the beginning of the Thrones timeline. 300 years between the beginning of the Targaryen-centric series and the beginning of Game of Thrones is plenty of time, I'd say!
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