Fans were devastated Tuesday to learn that HBO had reportedly dropped the first Game of Thrones prequel in production. The show was set in the ancient past of Westeros, and it starred Naomi Watts. Now, many are wondering what is next for the franchise.
It was the end of an era for the entertainment industry this year when Game of Thrones came to an end. As controversial as the final season was, there were many fans who wanted to see Westeros live on in television, especially given the richness of the world set up in George R. R. Martin's novels, A Song of Ice and Fire.
HBO was ahead of the curve, as development on spinoff shows began years ago. The now-canceled prequel, which had the working title Bloodmoon, got a pilot order back in June of 2018. It filmed this summer and it seemed close to getting a full series order, but on Tuesday, Deadline reported that the show is canceled.
Sources close to the production said that writer and showrunner Jane Goldman has been sending out emails to the cast and crew, telling them that HBO is not moving forward with their show. So far, the network has not confirmed this claim, but the internet is already in mourning for the show that never was.
Still, after its monumental run and historic ratings, there is no way Game of Thrones will be the last we see of Westeros on TV. In fact, there are many other projects in development, indicating that fans will be back in the Seven Kingdoms one way or another before long.
Here is a look at what could be next for the World of Ice and Fire on TV.
This is SHOCKING https://t.co/tzgOz208wh— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) October 29, 2019
First and foremost, it is worth noting that HBO has not officially announced its verdict on Bloodmoon yet. Even the reports we have come secondhand from Goldman, who may only be relaying the impression she has gotten, not a real decision.
There is a sliver of hope that some version of Bloodmoon will still get made. The original pilot for Game of Thrones itself was famously scrapped, wasting $10 million of HBO's money. The premiere was entirely re-shot, since executives believed in the premise that much.
The same could happen here, especially given the A-list talent attached to Bloodmoon. Goldman is a bona fide screenwriter in action and fantasy, and Naomi Watts leads a killer cast. Perhaps Bloodmoon will get the same treatment, and this will be the legendary pilot we never see.
In the meantime, there are other Westeros-centric projects in the works. The one that is next-closest to a pilot order is a prequel set about 300 years before the events of the main series. The show is written by Ryan Condal, and is believed to revolve around the early days of the Targaryen conquest of Westeros.
This show will draw heavily on material from Martin's latest book, Fire and Blood, which is a fictional history of the Targaryen dynasty. Many fans expect it to cover the wars and reign of Aegon the Conquerer, though others expect it to focus on the Dance of the Dragons, the inner-house civil war.
"[For what it's worth,] those who have read Fire & Blood will realize it contains enough materials for dozens of shows," Martin wrote on his blog.
According to Entertainment Weekly, this dragon-centric prequel has an "unofficial green light" at HBO, and is just waiting on an official pilot order.
When Arya killed the night King, little did we know she killed the prequel as well. One hell of a dagger. pic.twitter.com/y5jh2UTPOg— Joseph Warlock, Caller of Souls 🧙👻 (@TheJoeMagician) October 29, 2019
Meanwhile, as far as we know, there is still one more Game of Thrones spinoff in development at HBO. Martin has kept fans abreast of these projects as they go along through his blog, and as of his last update, there is one more in the making.
This last show is the biggest mystery, as we have absolutely no details on it. It is hard to narrow down a guess either, as Martin's world contains several continents, dozens of nations and thousands of years of history that we know of.
Still, it was argued by YouTuber In Deep Geek that we can expect HBO to have certain preferences for its Game of Thrones spinoffs. He pointed out that the Targaryen prequel might appeal more to casual viewers, who will recognize the dragons and iconography, rather than a show like Bloodmoon that would be largely unfamiliar.
Following this logic, we can expect HBO to find a part of Martin's work with the most familiar landmarks, families and magical elements to fans. However, Martin himself has told us that there will be no prequels adapting his Dunk and Egg novellas, nor any about Robert's Rebellion, the war that preceded the main series.
Martin has said that there were originally five Game of Thrones spinoffs in development, meaning that two more were scrapped somewhere along the way. These never got as much mainstream coverage like Bloodmoon, although there were a few details floating around online.
One series came from Bryan Cogman, the writer who began as Benioff and Weiss' writing assistant on Game of Thrones and then became one of the only other people ever to write a script for the series. In a profile with Vanity Fair earlier this year, Cogman revealed that he had been in charge of one Game of Thrones spinoff, but HBO had passed on it, in spite of his support from Martin.
The other spinoff came from Max Borenstein, known for writing Kong: Skull Island, among other things. Unconfirmed reports from fan sites said that Borenstein's show was about the fall of Valyria, the advanced civilization of dragon-riders from which Daenerys descends. However, these were never confirmed in more substantial reports.
There is not much to do but speculate on other Game of Thrones prequels, at least until official announcements are made. Thanks to the wealth of source material, however, there are plenty of ideas for fans to kick around.
A look at TWOIAF shows that ancient Westeros was NOT only First Men and children of the forest. The ancient Ironborn appear to have non-Westerosi origins; the Hightowers and Daynes almost certainly do, and even the Lannisters have sufficient clues to be retconned as such
/3— Lucifer means Lightbringer (@thedragonLML) October 29, 2019
Even if Bloodmoon is dead in the water, that does not mean a series about ancient Westeros is impossible. In fact, there are many fans online discussing the rumors about Bloodmoon and what they would rather see in such a series.
For book fans, the ancient history of Martin's world is of great interest, especially given its potential effect on the modern-day magic. There are dozens of fan theories about the prehistoric past in Westeros, based on Martin's writings — particularly in side books like The World of Ice and Fire.
Many fans expect this ancient history to make more sense when Martin finishes the main series books. As in the show, the books will show Bran merging with the Weirwood trees and learning from their hive-mind. If the books reveal more from this plot line than the show did, it may provide enough material to give Goldman's show a makeover, and make it more marketable.
As for the people behind Bloodmoon, there is plenty more work on the docket. Watts was the big, bankable name for the series, but she has five other upcoming projects listed on her IMDb page. This includes a movie due out this year and another due out in 2020, both of which are in pre-production.
She also stars in an upcoming show called Wolves and Villagers, which is expected to launch on the new streaming service Quibi. Finally, Watts plays the main character in The Burning Season, another book adaptation that is in pre-production now.
Meanwhile, Goldman has two more writing projects on deck as well. Most notably, she is listed as a writer on Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, along with David Magee. That movie had been in the news with big casting announcements lately, but there is no release date in place yet.
George confirming his schedule is TWoW - Dunk & Egg 4 - ADoS - D&E 5 - Fire & Blood 2.— Adam Whitehead (@Werthead) August 8, 2019
Last but certainly not least, Westeros will live on in books. Author George R. R. Martin has two more books planned for the main series, which will bring his novels to about the same ending as the show.
Martin is working on The Winds of Winter now, the sixth book in his main series. In his most recent public talks, Martin has said that his plan is to finish The Winds of Winter, then write the fourth novella in his Dunk and Egg series. After that, he says, he will write A Dream of Spring, the final book in the main series.
Finally, Martin will then write a fifth Dunk and Egg story and the second volume of Fire and Blood, in whatever order they grab his attention. These are some of the most highly-anticipated books in the world right now, and with the show no longer hanging over his head for comparison, Martin seems confident that he will get them out soon.
Martin has promised that The Winds of Winter will be "in his hand" by the summer of 2020.