olivia cooke and rhys ifans in house of the dragon first look

One of the most highly anticipated TV projects currently heading toward a series premiere is HBO's first big Game of Thrones follow-up, the prequel drama House of the Dragon. Fans were waiting to see more from George R.R. Martin's universe even while the flagship series was still airing, but the upcoming series has already faced a noteworthy setback, with production being halted this week after a COVID test came back as positive.

House of the Dragon began filming in the UK back in April, with HBO having ordered the project to series back in October 2019. And up until this week, the production seemed to be going smoothly enough, with several images being released in the meantime. However, Deadline reported that filming was put on pause in the aftermath of a positive COVID case popping up in "zone A," which accounts for both cast and crew members. It's reported that it wasn't a member of the growing cast, but rather someone behind the camera that tested positive.

Production will be delayed for two days as the positive-testing crew member will go into quarantine mode, as will those who were in close contact with the person, per the COVID protocol guidelines. A two-day delay may not sound like much, but with a show as expensive as this, any pause is a big deal, and even more so when it involves someone's health. And, knock on all the wood possible, this may not be the only COVID test that comes back positive going forward.

It's no secret that COVID cases are booming once more in the UK (as well as parts of the U.S.), and Game of Thrones' prequel series isn't the only big show that's currently on standby. Netflix's super-popular historical romance Bridgerton suspended its production for a second time in the same week due to positive tests, and the streaming series is currently on indefinite hiatus as things get figured out behind the scenes.

One has to wonder if HBO and HBO Max execs have been considering potential COVID-related delays when thinking about other ways to expand the Game of Thrones franchise, considering the other more recent developments have involved animated spinoffs. There are reportedly three in contention as of this writing, and two of those made headlines only recently, with one of them reportedly centered on unexplored stories from the Golden Empire of Yi Ti. It's not quite clear what the other will focus on, but it's not like there's a lack of potential subject matter to adhere to.

That said, while those animated projects are supposedly moving in a positive direction, HBO reportedly shuttered one of the live-action spinoffs that was still in contention. So anyone hoping to watch some badassery go down in Flea's Bottom is currently out of luck. That isn't to say the location won't appear in other projects, but that particular follow-up plan isn't going forward anymore. And, of course, there was the Naomi Watts-starring prequel that the network surprisingly turned away from after the pilot was filmed.

For now, we can only hope that House of the Dragon's production delay is as limited as possible, and that no further COVID-related issues will affect things. While waiting to hear more good news coming out of that project, be sure check out all the shows coming soon to the 2021 Summer TV schedule.

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