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As HBO subscribers wait with bated mechanical breath for the Season 3 premiere of Westworld, the network's former rating juggernaut Game of Thrones is still finding ways to retain its spot in the zeitgeist. That spot can be an inflammatory one, to be sure, and the novel series' author George R.R. Martin is no stranger to stoking the dragon flames. He did just that recently with the claim that Game of Thrones' final season was initially planned as a feature film trilogy.
Considering just how massive the Game of Thrones branding is around the world, it would make sense for HBO to potentially want the fantasy franchise to have a bit of big screen fun. And while it still could happen in some way, shape or form in the future, George R.R. Martin claims those conversations were initially happening in regards to the show's highly polarizing final season. Here's how Martin explained it (and note that the below is a translation from a German publication):
At the moment it is not my place to decide because the movie rights for Game of Thrones belong to HBO. Besides from that, we actually considered this option: David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the makers behind the TV show, wanted to finish the saga with three big movies after Season 7. Game of Thrones was supposed to end in cinema. It was seriously discussed four to five years ago.
First, let's unpack that George R.R. Martin was having conversations four years ago with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss about Game of Thrones potentially getting to wrap up its epic, tragic narratives on the silver screen, as opposed to a truncated HBO season. That kind of decision obviously couldn't be a spur of the moment thing, considering how vast and complicated the production process was for the final battle episode and the rest. As such, it makes sense that the seeds were already being sewn in the series' earlier seasons, even if those seeds never grew out.
Second, let's consider that Game of Thrones' final season did come out to around the same runtime as a trilogy of brevity-dodging movies, though it's impossible to know how the stories viewers watched would have compared to the way things would have played out for a theatrical release. Would the storytelling still have felt as rushed, or would the medium change allow for other differences to seep in?
In his interview with Welt, where his love of Quentin Tarantino and Guillermio del Toro sparked this line of questioning, George R.R. Martin also explained why the theatrical movie idea never quite got off the ground after those initial conversations. In his (translated) words:
Because HBO didn't want that. The executives said: We produce TV shows, we are not in the cinema business. And if HBO does make a movie, like the movie based on Deadwood, they only produce it to show it on tv - not on the big screen. Everything is changing at the moment. What is being shown at the cinema right now? Everything is mixing up. Nowadays we don't know where the lines between cinema, streaming services and television are.
Though HBO occasionally will put one of its feature-length projects into theaters, they fall more into the documentary circuit, while nearly all of the network's scripted offerings remain wholly tethered to TV telecasts. Could that change in the future? It's certainly possible, though not the most likely scenario, especially now that we're just a few months away from the debut of HBO Max, which will likely be the premiere new spot for in-house features. (Not to mention the home for future G.o.T. projects.)
What do you guys think? Should HBO have devoted that much more money into Game of Thrones in order to build upon the TV show's high prestige factor? Or would the show's ending have tumbled that much harder and deeper with a transition to cinemas? Let us know in the comments, and while waiting to see if George R.R. Martin's next Thrones book will be out anytime soon, don't forget that the entirety of Game of Thrones is available to streaming on HBO Go and HBO NOW.