The Rings of Power, House of the Dragon continue filming amid bitter writers' strike

Galadriel looks at a blind Queen Miriel, who sits off camera, with Bronwyn behind her in The Rings of Power episode 7
The Rings of Power season 2 has almost finished filming in the UK. (Image credit: Amazon Studios)

Two of the world’s biggest fantasy shows remain unaffected by the increasingly bitter writers’ strike, according to reports.

Per Variety, work on The Rings of Power season 2, which is currently being shot in the UK, won’t be halted by the industrial action that’s dominated the entertainment news cycle over the past week. In basic terms, the strike, which was called by the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) – a union representing writers across various industry sectors – is the result of a breakdown in talks between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over working conditions and rates of pay.

The Rings of Power, which is arguably Prime Video’s most popular high-fantasy series, is believed to have 19 days of principal photography left before production wraps on its second season. Subsequently, the writers’ strike, which currently has no end date in sight, could have spelled disaster for its forthcoming season.

However, showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay are said to have made contingency plans for such an event. The pair, who are WGA members, are unable to oversee the final stage of production due to WGA strike rules. Essentially, as The Rings of Power’s showrunners – a multi-hyphenate role, which sees them serve as both head writers and producers on the show – Payne and McKay are barred from conducting any work on season 2 while the strike is in progress.

With rumors concerning a writers strike doing the rounds as early as mid-April, Payne and McKay planned ahead to ensure the transfer of *ahem* power would be seamless in their absence. In their absence, non-writing executive producers including Lindsey Weber, plus the show’s filmmaking team – such as director Charlotte Brändström – are taking charge of the final few weeks of filming.

Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith look at one another in House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon season 2's production isn't being affected too much by the writers' strike. (Image credit: HBO)

As for House of the Dragon, the critically-acclaimed HBO Max fantasy show, its second season is also currently being filmed in the UK. Again, Variety reports that the Game of Thrones prequel series won’t be impacted by the writers’ strike, with script work having been completed well in advance of the strike being called. Ryan Condal, House of the Dragon’s showrunner, is also a WGA member, meaning he’s unable to cross the picket line on the series he’s helming.

However, while two of the best fantasy shows are still moving ahead with their next installments, what’s unclear is how they’ll handle writing-based issues in their showrunners’ absence, particularly if the dispute drags on for an extended period.

Script changes of any kind are forbidden under WGA strike rules. That means daily script rewrites, directorial notes, and even script supervisors making tiny alterations to specific lines directly violate an individual’s WGA membership. Actors might ad-lib or change lines on their own, too, thus further complicating on-set matters.

Without their showrunners and wider writing team, The Rings of Power or House of the Dragon‘s non-writing team members can’t make any last-minute tweaks to the scripts. We’ve reached out to Amazon Studios and HBO for comment, and we’ll report back if we receive a response. 

Analysis: a US problem affecting UK-based productions 

Queen Míriel, Halbrand, and Arondir look shocked as Adar's masterplan is put into full effect in The Rings of Power episode 6

Maybe we haven't thought this all the way through, guys... (Image credit: Matt Grace/Prime Video)

It might seem strange to read that shows that have been developed by US-based studios, but are being shot in the UK, fall under the jurisdiction of the WGA’s current strike.

Well, under the union’s strike rules, all WGA members – including those working outside of the US – have to down tools if a) they fall under the WGA’s umbrella, and b) active writing work is taking place. As I mentioned above, Payne, McKay, and Condal are all WGA members, so The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon are directly affected.

Additionally, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) has instructed its members to put their pens down and stand in solidarity with their US colleagues. So, even if US studios wanted to circumvent the WGA’s rules and hire UK writers to pen their scripts, they can’t.

Things could get even worse, too. A June 30 deadline is looming large over contract renewals for members of the Screen Actors Guild: American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and Directors Guild of America (DGA). If the AMPTP fails to negotiate a new deal with these guilds, actors and directors could join writers on picket lines across the US, further disrupting the entertainment industry.

That would spell bad news for movie studios and the world's best streaming services, including Prime Video, HBO Max, and Netflix, the latter of which has already come under fire for its supposed role in the strike. Find out why Netflix users are cancelling subscriptions amid the growing feud over the writers strike.

For more Prime Video and HBO Max content, read up on the best Prime Video shows and best HBO Max shows around. 

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

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