When HBO announced four Game of Thrones spin-offs were being developed, we all went mad with our speculation. George R.R. Martin later crossed a few possibilities off our list, and confirmed all were prequels. There were, however, a few questions still: is the plan to produce them all? Merely the ones deemed good enough? Or is it a talent war with only one winner in mind? And what is the timetable for any of this, anyway?
Now we have the answers, but they may not be the ones you were hoping for, especially in regards to the likely late premiere of this prequel… and of season 8, too!
In an interview with EW, HBO programming president Casey Bloys was quite frank about the early stages of development in which these spin-offs actually are:
“I want to put the prequels in context. It should go without saying I love having a show with this much intense interest around it. Even the smallest bit of information is a big deal and I appreciate that. But I wanted to make sure fans know this is a really embryonic process. I haven’t even seen outlines.” In other words: calm down.
Also, we should probably temper our expectations in terms of quantity: “In the press at large, everybody said, ‘there are four spinoffs’ and they assume that means each one is happening and we’re going to have a new Game of Thrones show per quarter. That’s not what’s going on,” Bloys clarified. “The idea is not to do four shows. The bar set by [David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] is so high that my hope is to get one show that lives up to it.”
Why develop multiple projects at once then, if most of them will not see the light of day? Apparently, this is as unusual as it sounds, and Game of Thrones is unique in this respect: “You couldn’t do this with a lot of shows. In talking with the drama group here, and the nice thing is George has created an entire universe … The other reason, frankly, as I said, is the bar is so high. If you only developed one, everything would rest on that one shot … I want to make sure that [any prequel] feels worthy. We have some amazing writers who want to take a shot at this. They’re also looking at different times in the universe and all will have different feels. This increases our odds of finding one that’s unique.”
To learn about D&D’s involvement or the possibility of an anthology, read the interview. They key points are that it’s going to be a single prequel, and it’s going to take its time being developed, as it should. They have other priorities in mind right now: “Our No. 1 goal is the seventh season this summer and getting the eighth season written and aired.”
“The show has proven that TV is every bit as impressive and in many cases moreso than film. What they’re doing is monumental. When you see these battles in season 7, and what I imagine season 8 will be, it’s a big, big show. We’ve done a lot of great shows, but this one combines the complex characters we love with a huge cinematic scope. I think this is the first show to prove that can be done — and we’re the first people to pay for it.”
There is no doubt about Bloys’ pride concerning season seven: “I don’t want to oversell, but I can’t imagine anybody being disappointed in this season. It’s amazing.”
As for that last season, here it is when the news perhaps take a sour turn. EW‘s Hibberd and Bloys more than imply that season eight may take longer to arrive than expected. When the season seven filming schedule was delayed to film during winter, the assumption was next season would follow a similar path, which would mean waiting for less than a year this time around. Sadly, that may not be the case: Hibberd claims the showrunners told him they’re working on season eight “for the next year and and a half,” which by his calculation could mean “the final season could air in 2018 and/or in 2019.” Bloys doesn’t specifically confirm the claim, but he certainly doesn’t deny it either:
“They have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule. We’ll have a better sense of that once they get further into the writing.”
Could it really be we’ll have to wait until 2019 for the resolution to Game of Thrones? This is by no means a confirmation —HBO doesn’t even seem sure about the timetable here. But if Hibberd is correct about what the showrunners told him, this winter in Westeros promises to be a long one. Hopefully we’ll not freeze to death as we wait.