After Game of Thrones wrapped in 2019 after eight years of massive success, HBO was eager to find the next epic fantasy drama that could take on the mantle. HBO had never pursued spinoff series before, but according to a new account on the Hollywood Reporter, it was willing to take the risk in order to create a cinematic franchise that might rival Marvel or Star Wars.
The road to creating the series that we now know as House of the Dragon was not simple. After a massive series of pitches, HBO narrowed it down to five ideas that were put into development. “I wanted to give ourselves every chance of success,” said Casey Bloys, HBO’s chief content officer, to THR. “You don’t want to say, ‘We’re going to replace the biggest show of all time and it’s all going to rest on one script.’”
All five concepts were prequels set before the events of Game of Thrones. Three of them were “a script about the destruction of the ancient Targaryen empire of Valyria by Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island), another was a take on the Dornish warrior queen Nymeria by Oscar winner Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential), and yet another… was about Aegon’s conquest of Westeros and penned by Rand Ravich and Far Shariat (The Astronaut’s Wife). That script portrayed the William the Conqueror-inspired figure as a drunken lout.”
The last two were Bloodmoon and The Dance of the Dragons. The latter was the story that George R.R. Martin himself had pitched to HBO. But Bloodmoon was HBO’s first attempt at recreating the success of Game of Thrones. It would “take place years before the events in Thrones, during the fabled Age of Heroes and the wintry apocalypse known as the Long Night.” And it failed, to the tune of a 30 million dollar pilot that was eventually deemed not good enough and locked in HBO’s “dungeon.” Not even Martin has seen it. Later, after some rewrites, The Dance of the Dragons became House of the Dragon. Hopefully, HBO can get some of the magic back.
We’ll find out soon: House of the Dragon premieres August 21 on HBO Max.