Miguel Sapochnik, a co-showrunner for “House of the Dragon” and a veteran Game of Thrones director, leaves the new show. It’s not surprising that the Game of Thrones prequel has proven to be a huge hit for HBO, even though only two of the 10 episodes of the first season have been broadcast. With 10 million viewers, the Targaryen-focused show’s opening episode had the highest viewership of any HBO debut, and already, “House of the Dragon” has been given a second season order. After Game of Thrones season 8 received harsh criticism from fans, series creator George R.R. Martin decided to be more involved with the prequel, working alongside Ryan J. Condal as a co-creator.
Condal is a co-showrunner as well. Sapochnik, for his part, was first apprehensive to return to the world of Game of Thrones until he witnessed firsthand how devoted the fandom was at a Game of Thrones Experience performance in Los Angeles with a crowd of 17,000 people. After that, he worked with Condal for months to conceive “House of the Dragon,” and he spent two years filming and working on the series’ post-production. Since the late ’90s, he has been a seasoned TV and film director, working on projects as diverse as Fringe and House. The fierce and adored “Battle of the Bastards,” “Hardhome,” and “The Winds of Winter” episodes of Game of Thrones, however, are where Sapochnik really established himself as a director. He also directed episodes 6 and 7 in addition to the pilot of “House of the Dragon.”
Sapochnik will no longer serve as the showrunner of “House of the Dragon” once the first season has already concluded. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of the shuffle and also revealed that Alan Taylor, another Thrones veteran, had been engaged by production to work as an executive producer and director for a number of season 2 episodes. The separation appears to be completely amicable and mostly motivated by Sapochnik’s wish to diversify. Check out what he said below:
“Working within the Thrones universe for the past few years has been an honor and a privilege, especially spending the last two with the amazing cast and crew of House of the Dragon. I am so proud of what we accomplished with season 1 and overjoyed by the enthusiastic reaction of our viewers. It was incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally. As I do so, though, I am deeply comforted to know that Alan will be joining the series. He’s someone I’ve known and respected for a long time, and I believe this precious series could not be in safer hands. I am so glad to remain a part of the HBO and House of the Dragon family and, of course, I wish Ryan and his team success and all the best with season 2 and beyond.”
The first season of “House of the Dragon” was filmed over ten months, while the post-production and visual effects work took another nine and a half months. It’s actually not all that shocking that Sapochnik is leaving the show right now, especially considering all that came before his initial reluctance to participate. Taylor’s addition looks solid despite Sapochnik’s abrupt departure, as he played a significant role in defining the look and feel of “House of the Dragon.” Taylor has also helmed seven episodes of Game of Thrones, including the final two of season 1, which featured crucial scenes like Ned Stark’s beheading and the creation of Daenerys’ dragons. Taylor has also helmed episodes of The Sopranos and Rome.
Whether Sapochnik’s departure will have any long-lasting impact on “House of the Dragon” is still to be seen, although it doesn’t seem likely. He will continue to work as an executive producer, and with the help of Martin, Condal, and Taylor, HBO is obligated to ensure that their most important product stays on course in order to avoid incurring the wrath of throngs of fans once more. Sapochnik, though, will be absolutely fine because he has a first-look agreement with HBO to create new projects. “House of the Dragon” appears to be doing well so far; its audience not only held steady from its record-breaking premiere but even grew during the second episode. The “home of fire and blood” will remain till further notice.