Despite investing millions of dollars on its pilot, HBO canceled the Game of Thrones prequel about The Long Night, which is actually a good omen for “House of the Dragon”. Before the last season of Game of Thrones aired in 2019, it was rumored that HBO was working on a number of Westeros-themed spinoffs. That was not surprising, given that Game of Thrones had already established itself as one of the most popular television shows of all time by that point, and what’s even more remarkable is that a spinoff has yet to be released.
Of course, this isn’t due to HBO’s lack of effort. “House of the Dragon“ is set to premiere in 2022 after being postponed due to the Covid-19 epidemic, but if all had gone according to schedule, one Game of Thrones prequel could have aired by now. The first spinoff was a series set during the Age of Heroes that was supposed to recount the story of The Long Night and solve some outstanding concerns regarding the Night King and White Walkers.
A pilot for the show, created by Jane Goldman and George R.R. Martin and featuring an amazing ensemble led by Naomi Watts, was shot in the summer of 2019, but HBO opted not to move further with it. Since then, it’s been reported that HBO spent $30 million on the shelved Game of Thrones prequel pilot, and the network has yet to move through with it. That demonstrates that HBO felt there were issues that couldn’t be solved, but it also gives reason to be optimistic about “House of the Dragon”. The program was handed a 10-episode series order without the need for a pilot, demonstrating HBO’s confidence in the idea from the start, as well as confirming the company’s commitment to getting its Game of Thrones spinoffs right.
The original Game of Thrones pilot was a colossal failure, prompting HBO to re-film the great majority of it. That cost roughly $10 million to make, which is significantly less than the rejected Game of Thrones prequel’s pilot, but it’s still a sizable sum, given that the re-done version, which became Game of Thrones season 1, episode 1, “Winter Is Coming,” cost around the same amount. Given that HBO had already done this with one pilot, it’s not hard to see them doing something similar with The Long Night, reworking it and trying to make it happen despite the fact that so much money had been spent. The fact that $30 million was practically written off shows that the Game of Thrones prequel spinoffs isn’t just a cash grab for HBO, but that they’ll only be made if there’s something truly fantastic – or at least with truly great potential – which “House of the Dragon” maybe.
Similarly, it’s an indication that HBO will invest money on the impending Game of Thrones prequel where it’s needed. This was true of the first season of Game of Thrones, and “House of the Dragon” may require even larger resources. There’ll be a lot of dragon action to put on screen until it gets to the heart of the Targaryen Civil War, the Dance of the Dragons, and HBO is clearly prepared to make the same expenditures in the prequel and then some. Although the first Game of Thrones prequel failed miserably, it appears that HBO is taking its time, investing the money, and willing to go to great lengths to ensure that the spinoffs are successful. That doesn’t ensure success, but given the reasons to be cautious following Game of Thrones’ controversial ending, it gives people hope.