HBO spent ‘over $30 million’ on a failed Game of Thrones spin-off pilot starring Naomi Watts, according to reports.



We now have additional information regarding HBO’s canceled Game of Thrones spin-off. According to James Andrew Miller’s new book Tinderbox: HBO’s Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers, the network spent more than $30 million on a fantasy prequel series starring Naomi Watts that was never picked up for a series.

The initial Game of Thrones spin-off developed by the network, though it never had a title, had some major names involved — in addition to Watts, the program would have also had S.J. Clarkson as director and Jane Goldman as showrunner — and an intriguing idea. This prequel would have taken place thousands of years before Game of Thrones, and would have included distant relatives of great houses such as the Starks and Lannisters – but no dragons, as it would have taken place before House Targaryen arrived in Westeros. The Long Night was offered as a possible title by author George R.R. Martin, but the phrase was eventually chosen as the episode title for the final season’s epic battle at Winterfell.

On the same day that the series was canceled, HBO announced that House of the Dragon, a prequel set considerably closer in time to Game of Thrones about the dragon-filled civil war in House Targaryen, had been given a full series order. House of the Dragon, unlike the Watts program, contains actual source material in the form of Martin’s 2018 novel Fire & Blood. But, as former WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt explains in Tinderbox, it wasn’t the only factor in HBO’s decision.

“They had spent over $30 million on a Game of Thrones prequel pilot when I got there,” Greenblatt says in Miller’s book. “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.”

HBO declined to comment on this story.