The ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel starring Naomi Watts isn’t happening

Actress Naomi Watts wearing a dress by The Vampire's Wife arrives at the 2019 Australians In Film Awards held at the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City on October 23, 2019 in Century City, Los Angeles, California, United States.

Before the last season of Game of Thrones even aired, HBO was looking at ways to keep the GoT money train rolling. They greenlighted a pilot called The Long Night, which was being billed as the mother of all prequels. It was going to be set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, back in the days of Children of the Forest and the First Men and Bran the Builder and such. Like, it would have shown how the Night King came to be. They filmed the pilot over the summer with Naomi Watts as the big-name attached. And… the pilot must have been AWFUL, because now HBO doesn’t want the show.

The untitled Game of Thrones prequel from Jane Goldman is not moving forward at HBO. Said to focus on the “Age of Heroes” and the first ever battle between man and White Walker, Goldman’s prequel — which had filmed a pilot over the summer — will not be advancing to series, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. According to sources, Goldman e-mailed the cast to share the news. HBO, as it typically does on projects in development, declined comment.

The news comes shortly after word of HBO nearing a deal to produce a second pilot based in the world of Game of Thrones, from the minds of author George R.R. Martin and Ryan J. Condal. The series is said to focus on the reign of Targaryen kings in the lead-up to the events of Game of Thrones, aligning the vision of the project much more closely to the days of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) than the now scrapped Naomi Watts-starring prequel — though still quite a bit earlier than the events of the Emmy-winning HBO series, which wrapped its final season in the spring of 2019.

Featuring a sprawling cast including Watts, Miranda Richardson, Joshua Whitehouse, Marquis Rodrigez and more, Goldman’s untitled Game of Thrones prequel was said to take place during the Age of Heroes, thousands of years before the events of Thrones. In this period of Westeros history, the Seven Kingdoms weren’t even a twinkle in the eye, as the continent was separated into dozens of their own kingdoms. It was an age dominated by heroic figures like Bran the Builder, credited with creating the Wall, and Lann the Clever, credited with founding House Lannister.

[From THR]

I still think that the project sounds interesting, but my guess is that HBO didn’t want to finance something that probably would have cost a fortune per-episode AND been very CGI-intensive. Plus, they wouldn’t have had a massive amount of source material to fall back on, so if one season didn’t work, it would be a $200-million blunder with sh-tty writing (hello, GoT season 8). But yeah, HBO would prefer to spend that money on a GoT-adjacent project which has more of a built-in audience, i.e. people already invested in the all of the important houses (Baratheon, Stark, Targaryen). Even though we got flashback glimpses of the story of Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen, it would absolutely be worth it to focus on Robert’s Rebellion and all of that. I mean…why not? They’re obviously going to spend the money doing something GoT-related. Give the people what they want.

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, attend a roundtable discussion on gender equality!

Photos courtesy of WENN, HBO.

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22 Responses to “The ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel starring Naomi Watts isn’t happening”

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  1. Jenns says:

    With all the news breaking around GoT yesterday, I felt like I had whiplash.

    I’m bummed, because I was really interested in this story and the long night. However, I get it. I don’t think the White Walkers had a huge appeal, especially after how their story line was totally botched in S8 of the show. With that being said, having Miguel Sapochnik co-lead the Targaryen series is pretty friggin awesome. He directed some of the absolute best GoT episodes, so it’s great to have him attached. I just really hope that have a diverse writing room and hire some women directors this time.

    • Athyrmose says:

      Wasn’t this show’s show runner a woman, and one with lots of experience?

      I get it, but it still reeks of male privilege to me. They were willing to roll out the red carpet for the D&D dudebros, but not willing to extend the same opportunities here? Yuck.

      • Cinnamon says:

        I absolutely agree. One of the two showrunners of the new show is Ryan Condal and his IMDB is reminiscent of Benioff’s. Jane Goldman on the other hand seems really experienced but I guess that’s not what HBO is looking for.
        Doesn’t seem like they want a writers room either since THR says episodes will be written by GRRM and Condal…

      • Jane'sWastedTalent says:

        Ah. And there’s his excuse for not finishing the books.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      When I heard Sapochnik was gonna be at the helm I squeed with glee. His episodes were arguably THEEE best of the series. And when I heard what he had actually intended for the Long Night episode, only to get cut by D&D, I was pissed. His ideas would have taken that episode to another level.

      Now, I hope they get Ramin Djawadi for the music. Then the trifecta would be complete lol.

      I always thought the whole Fire and Blood saga was way more interesting anyway. Most of the great houses we’ve come to know are already established. And I’m hoping bad ass Visenya is worked in there properly.

      • KellySunshine says:

        Can I ask what Sapochnick had intended for the Long Night? I’m still lamenting how the show runners of GoT messed up the final season…

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        KellySunshine

        He wanted a 1v1 duel between Night King and Jon, he had a whole part where Bran is actually useful after he wargs out, which would have shown him gathering a bunch of ravens together to force the NK on Viserion on a path towards Dany and Jon on their dragons, and he was gonna have Nymeria’s superpack show up to fight along with Ghost. He said D&D had to cut it out due to time constraints or something.

  2. Peanutbuttr says:

    They’re doing the Targaryen storyline instead, which looks like it will cost even more with all the dragons.

    • Turtledove says:

      Seems contradictory, if $/CGI is an issue, the Targaryen story which will need to include lots of dragons seems like a bizarre choice.

      That said, I love all the dragons and would be psyched to see this! Maybe that is part of the decision? They figure either storyline will be big bucks, but Targaryens with their dragons seem a safer bet for bringing in viewers?

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      The dragons were always the easiest to CGI. It was the direwolves, giants and mammoths that were harder to render. More time consuming and more costly. Which is why the doggos always got cut from the show. I imagine an age where the wolves, giants and mammoths would be in abundance, would eventually get more costly down the line.

      Plus the tea is HBO and the execs HATED the pilot so much, and thought it was trash. It didn’t have GRRM tied to it and not much of his lore was available to work into it, so they were just flying by the seat of their pants. And we see what happens when his source material isn’t on hand. The Fire and Blood saga has so much more history.

      • Kelly says:

        The first pilot for Game of Thrones itself was re-shot and only a few scenes from that pilot made it into the first episode. The two scenes where it’s very obvious that they were from the mostly unused first pilot are Sansa’s introduction to Cersei at the feast and Tyrion’s first scene in the Wintertown brothel. Sophie Turner looks visibly older in her other scenes in the first episode, and Peter Dinklage’s hair is blonder compared to his other scenes.

        A Targareyan centric show from Aegon and his sisters to the dance of dragons doesn’t have to be a CGI heavy production. We’re more likely to see the large battle scenes and increased CGI around Aegon’s conquest and the climax of the dance of dragons. Otherwise, most of it is the smaller scale human and political drama that GoT did so well during seasons 1 to 6.

        Also in terms of casting, most of the lead roles could be for one season only. The only ones that could be for more than one season may be Aegon the conqueror and Visenya.

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        Kelly,

        I noticed Tyrion and Jaime were both super blonde in that episode. I swear Jaime had frosted highlights lol

  3. Pineapple says:

    “Give the people what they want.” You know what the people want? Parts of season eight re-written.
    I am STILL so disappointed. STILL. And we are onto the next money making part of this machine. Nope. Not me. Nope.

    • ReginaGeorge says:

      It is what it is at this point and that’s not gonna happen. The best we can hope for is for GRRM to finally finish the books, which would give us more detail and more character POV. We already know he plans to end it the same way, but it should get more substance, *IF* he actually finishes it. Now that he’s moving on to the dragon prequels, people are already speculating he’ll never finish now.

      • ArtHistorian says:

        He’s not gonna finish the books. It takes him longer and longer with each book. Plus, I seriously doubt that he can wrap up the series in just two book because he keeps adding sub-plots and new POVs – like Euron the sorcerer pirat, a character and sub-plot that annoys me greatly.

      • ReginaGeorge says:

        I think that’s his biggest problem. He added too many subplots and is having trouble whittling the story back down to a core group.

    • Myrtle says:

      I’ve been watching The Deuce on HBO – a 3-season series that just ended well on Monday. Not happily, but well. The final episode was completely satisfying. So it is possible.

      The final two seasons of GoT were one of the greatest letdowns EVER in television history. Pretty much ruined the whole series in my mind, after investing all those years…tragic! Like spilling Cabernet on the front of a beautiful white dress. It becomes unwearable.

  4. aiobhan targaryen says:

    All of this GOT news is giving me whiplash. Most of it is amazing since I am a Targ fan and hate D&D. D&D getting fired from Disney before they were allowed to start anything makes me happy. Those mediocre douche canoes being exposed for the hateful and lazy trash they are was glorious. What is the best part is that they did it to themselves. Their words finally came back to bite them in the ass. I don’t know what KK was thinking in the first place when she offered them a contract but I am glad she came to her senses.

    It is kind of sad that a female led production was tanked but from what I was reading it sounded like a bloated and insensitive mess. I think they had it were all the CotF were black and somehow got cursed and turned into the green beings they appeared to be on the show. Mess that belongs in a trash can. Empire of Ash and this new Targ show sound much more promising.

    George is never going to finish those books. I wish he would just release an outline of the last two (possibly four with the way he writes) books. Or just post something on his live journal page on how he would have ended the series so that we can all move on.

  5. Cinnamon says:

    I’m wondering if GRRM is part of the problem because in this new show he again aligns himself with an absolutely inexperienced writer/showrunner. Is GRRM afraid of other writers doing more interesting things with his material? Are GRRM’s insecurities ruining our lives?

  6. Steph says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if there is a bad report coming out on D&D. Their show is being passed on while another GOT series was picked up straight to series and they lost their Star Wars deal in the same week. Is something coming out about them that both HBO and Disney wanted to separate themselves from or is it just coincidental timing?

    • Kimberly says:

      maybe it was simply how horrid they made season 8 and no longer have faith that they can deliver…I know I dont watch anything ith their names attached..personal choice of mine after their colossal screw up of GoT s8.