HBO has long been the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms in the television department, but the network is clearly taking cues from Disney Plus in its quest to maximize its biggest intellectual property (IP).
According to a new report from The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), HBO has entered into early development on a new Game of Thrones spin-off centered on fan-favorite character Jon Snow. Kit Harington is attached to reprise his role in the fledgling project, which would mark the first sequel to George R. R. Martin’s blockbuster fantasy series.
Should the unnamed show move forward, it would join six other Game of Thrones-related projects currently in the works at HBO. House of the Dragon, a prequel series focused on the early days of the Targaryen dynasty, is set to debut on HBO Max on August 21.
It’s worth clarifying that neither HBO nor Harington has commented on the project’s existence, but THR has a history of confirming the development of upcoming movies and TV shows prior to their official announcement.
The new series would presumably pick up directly after the events of Thrones’ controversial season 8 finale, which saw Snow exiled from Westeros to begin a new life with the Wildlings beyond the Wall. It was also revealed, at the end of Game of Thrones season 7, that Snow’s true name is Aegon Targaryen, rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
This timeline would also permit the potential return of other popular Game of Thrones characters, including Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark and Brienne of Tarth.
In any case, HBO’s plans to further diversify Game of Thrones suggests it's learned from the strategy employed by its second-biggest streaming rival, Disney. The latter studio has opted to develop character-focused series based in its lucrative Star Wars and Marvel properties – Wandavision, Loki, Obi-Wan Kenobi and so on – that have proven invaluable for attracting new subscribers to Disney Plus.
A Jon Snow-led spin-off series would mark the first of its kind for the Game of Thrones universe, with HBO’s other in-development Thrones projects – such as the live-action series 9 Voyages and animated prequel The Golden Empire – focusing instead on particular dynasties or periods of time in Westeros’ long history.
This approach also makes financial sense for HBO. Limited series centered on isolated characters mean studios only have to fork out one large paycheck for the character actor in question. Multiple-season shows like Game of Thrones, on the other hand, boast large casts that grow infinitely more expensive as they build popularity – actors Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke and Harington, for instance, reportedly made $500,000 per episode in Game of Thrones’ latter seasons.
A reception of Ice and Fire
Naturally, more Game of Thrones doesn’t necessarily mean good Game of Thrones – and fans have already taken to social media to protest against HBO’s latest plans.
“Not a good idea. We got his story, there’s nothing left to tell,” wrote one Twitter (opens in new tab) user. “There are plenty of other stories that don’t involve Jon Snow and aren’t set in this era. Unless they have some amazing script, but I doubt it. Seems like a cash grab.”
“A character with one of the most boring personalities returning in a timeline where all the fun and complex characters have been killed off,” another (opens in new tab) wrote.
The reception hasn’t all been negative, mind. As one Twitter (opens in new tab) user explained: “I can’t wait to revisit that world and see some of those great characters again. Here’s hoping they can redeem the final season’s shortcomings.”
Evidently, then, a Jon Snow-led Game of Thrones series isn’t a guaranteed path to redemption for HBO – and, as shows like The Book of Boba Fett have proven, nostalgia will only carry a poorly conceived story so far.
There is, however, no doubt that millions would tune in to see Harington and his snow-flecked man bun one more time – and Disney's treatment of the world's favorite Jedis and superheroes looks to have given Jon Snow fans their wish.
If you're keen to delve into everything we know so far about HBO's more immediate Game of Thrones series, House of the Dragon, check out our comprehensive guide. The show begins streaming on HBO Max on August 21.