When is the Game of Thrones prequel coming out? And, perhaps a bigger question, how do you follow a colossal super-hit like Game of Thrones? Long before the epic adaptation of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels finished in 2019, HBO started planning for the succession. Work on five new shows set in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and one Game of Thrones prequel series – set 8,000 years before the events of the parent show – began.
Then everything changed. On October 29, 2019, Hollywood trade publications shocked fans with news that the untitled (but reportedly named Blood Moon), Naomi Watts-starring show hadn't been picked up for a series.
And then fantasy fans collectively breathed a sigh of relief: HBO announced it had ordered 10 episodes of an entirely different show instead. Set 300 years before Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon is to be inspired by Martin's 2018 book Fire and Blood, and focus on House Targaryen. Even better, that means dragons.
So, with the Great Game about to start all over again, here's what our little birds have told us about the Game of Throne prequel story, who's involved, and when you'll be able to see it. But what in the Seven Kingdoms happened to that other show…?
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House of the Dragon release date: 2022 (probably)
The first 10-episode season of House of the Dragon was announced in October 2019, and HBO isn't rushing to get it on the air. In an interview with Deadline in January 2020, HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys revealed that the House of the Dragon writing team are already hard at work, but pointed out that "it's a big, complicated show", so will take time getting to the screen.
Regarding a release date, he said, "My guess is some time in 2022," adding the caveat that the launch is too far away to go into any more detail.
As with Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon is set to be one of the crown jewels on HBO – and its new HBO Max streaming service.
That means it'll definitely be available on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the UK, following a new deal Sky TV signed with HBO in October 2019 that will reportedly keep HBO shows on the platforms "for many years to come".
Game of Thrones prequel: what's the story about?
The new Game of Thrones prequel series focuses on House Targaryen, so expect ambition, incest and, of course, winged, fire-breathing reptiles. George RR Martin confirmed the latter on his blog, admitting, "I can say there will be dragons. Everyone else has said that, so why not me?"
The new show is based on Martin's 2018 book Fire and Blood, which managed to annoy a section of the fanbase by not being the long-awaited sixth novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire saga. Instead the book is a history of the dragon-riding Targaryen family – the author himself has described it as the "GRRMarillion", a nod to the dense JRR Tolkien non-novel that recounts the pre-Lord of the Rings history of Middle-earth.
In terms of chronology, House of the Dragon will be set 300 years before Game of Thrones. Expect to see how Daenerys's ancestor Aegon the Conqueror invaded the Seven Kingdoms, united Westeros and became the first king to sit on the Iron Throne – all with the help of his two sister-wives, Visenya and Rhaenys.
There's also likely to be plenty of familial in-fighting – the Targaryens were dysfunctional long before Viserys and Dany came along – alongside origin stories of other major Westerosi houses like the Baratheons, Tyrells and Lannisters.
In other words, House of the Dragon looks set to have the same mix of epic battles, political intrigue and betrayals as Game of Thrones, with one major difference – this being a prequel, we know exactly where it's heading.
Game of Thrones prequel: who's making House of the Dragon?
#HouseOfTheDragon, a #GameofThrones prequel is coming to @HBO. The series is co-created by @GRRMSpeaking and Ryan Condal. Miguel Sapochnik will partner with Condal as showrunner and will direct the pilot and additional episodes. Condal will be writing the series. pic.twitter.com/9ttMzElgXmOctober 29, 2019
A Twitter announcement in October 2019 revealed that George RR Martin created the new Game of Thrones prequel series with Ryan Condal. Condal is best known for showrunning USA Network alien invasion drama Colony, and scripting Dwayne Johnson-starring game adaptation Rampage.
Condal will write the show and share showrunning duties with Miguel Sapochnik. Sapochnik directed some of Game of Thrones most epic episodes – including season 6's "Battle of the Bastards" and season 8's "The Long Night" – and will helm multiple episodes of House of the Dragon, including the pilot.
Is there a House of the Dragon trailer?
With the scripts still being written and the cast yet to be confirmed, don't expect any official Game of Thrones prequel series trailers to appear for a good while yet. The closest we've got so far is the poster image from the announcement tweet.
What happened to the Game of Thrones prequel series Blood Moon?
The other prequel series looked set to be massive. One of five potential spin-off shows ordered into development by HBO, a show set 8,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones looked the most likely to get a greenlight. HBO even shot a pilot episode over the summer of 2019.
Scripted by Jane Goldman – who boasts Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and Kingsman on her impressive resumé – the untitled series would reportedly have told the story of the First Men, the Children of the Forest, and the creation of the White Walkers. Naomi Watts headed up an impressive cast that also included John Simm (Life on Mars, Doctor Who), Miranda Richardson (Blackadder II, Good Omens), Jamie Campbell Bower (The Twilight Saga: New Moon, King Arthur) and Naomi Ackie (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The End of the F***ing World).
All looked promising until October 2019, when it turned out HBO had decided not to pick up the show. So what gave the broadcaster the fear?
"In development, in pilots, sometimes things come together, sometimes they don't," HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys told Deadline. "One of the things I think Jane [Goldman] took on beautifully, which was a challenge, there was a lot more world creation because she set hers 8,000 years before the [parent] show, so it required a lot more. One of the things about House of Dragons [sic], there is a text, there is a book so that made it a little bit more of a road map for a series order.
"I think Jane did a beautiful job, it was a big challenge but there was nothing that I would point to and say, 'Oh, that one element did not work.' Just overall it did not quite gel."
As for whether House of the Dragon will eventually be joined on HBO by more shows set on Westeros, Bloys simply said: "For me for right now, I think getting House of the Dragon on the air will be the number one priority. There are no other blinking green lights or anything like that. Sometime down the road who knows, but there are no immediate plans."
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