Within a span of less than 24 hours, the futures of both Games of Thrones and Star Wars have been blown up like they were either Alderaan or King’s Landing, depending on which series you have more of an allegiance to.
Late last night, Disney subsidy LucasFilms announced that David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, the duo behind the original Game of Thrones television series, would step away from their deal to produce a brand new trilogy of movies in the Star Wars universe (the pair will now concentrate on producing content for Netflix under a separate mega-deal). Then, this afternoon, word broke that HBO would not be going forward with a Game of Thrones spin-off pilot that was supposed to star Naomi Watts amongst others.
This is very, very concerning news if you happen to be a sci-fi or fantasy fan who just wants more content for the sake of content.
This might actually be good news if you’re the type of audience member who actually wants that content to be of quality.
Benioff and Weiss’s Star Wars deal was originally announced in February, 2018. That was months before Solo: A Star Wars Story premiered and proved to be both a critical and commercial disappointment, forcing Disney to scale back on their aggressive, Marvel-like plans for a never-ending stream of Star Wars movies. That was also a year before the final season of Game of Thrones premiered on HBO, which proved to be narratively disappointing to many hardcore fans (indeed, many fans online believe that the Star Wars deal may have distracted Benioff and Weiss, though there’s no actual proof of that). Disney still had Benioff and Weiss’s first film scheduled for a 2022 release, but there had been a curious lack of news about what exactly the film would entail.
As Disney execs were calculating the best way to squeeze the most money out of Star Wars, HBO execs were desperately trying to figure out how to produce more Thrones content. Benioff and Weiss, for their part, announced that they were done with the franchise, but HBO commissioned scripts for several spin-offs.
Eventually they ordered a project that remained officially untitled, but had come to be known as “Bloodmoon” amongst fans online. Created by Jane Goldman and George R.R. Martin, the series was said to have taken place about 8,000 years before Thrones (notably, before dragons were common place). Naomi Watts and Miranda Richardson were cast alongside a host of up-and-comers and British theater and television veterans, and the pilot was said to have been filmed this summer.
Perhaps the news shouldn’t have been a surprise. HBO appeared to have hedged their bets in September by ordering the development of a second Game of Thrones prequel series, one that would concentrate more on the history of the Targaryens (and hence, have more dragons).
There are also plans to continue Star Wars as well. Director Rian Johnson and, in a bit of cross-Disney synergy, Marvel Cinematic Universe producer Kevin Feige are said to be outlining plans for their own projects. There are also rumors that a script for the first film in a trilogy based on the video games Knights of the Old Republic has been commissioned. Several Star Wars television series are also expected to debut on the Disney+ streaming service.
Even the most devoted of fans have begun to complain of franchise fatigue and the sense that new content from their beloved properties were being churned out more for money than for anything else. Maybe it’s a good thing that both HBO and Disney are hitting the breaks on producing new installments that won’t live up to the originals.