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The Game of Thrones spin-off Bloodmoon cost $30 million to make, and yet it will never see the light of day.
In the lead-up to Game of Thrones' conclusion after eight seasons, HBO was eager to expand on the world. And Bloodmoon, which was set during a period in Westeros history called The Long Night, was the first prequel HBO ordered a pilot for. "A lot of the pilot revolved around a wedding of a Southern house to a Northern house," George R.R. Martin told The Hollywood Reporter, "and it got into the whole history of the White Walkers."
HBO Executive Vice President Francesca Orsi noted that the network was intrigued by the pilot, describing it as "different, with unique world-building." She continued, "Tonally it felt very adult, sophisticated and intelligent, and there was a thematic conversation at the center of it about disenfranchisement in the face of colonialism and religious extremism."
But it wasn't an easy project to develop, especially since Martin hadn't written much about that time period. The author himself admitted, "Bloodmoon was a very difficult assignment. We're dealing with a much more primitive people. There were no dragons yet."
But while the concept focused on interesting part of GoT lore, there were concerns that Bloodmoon couldn't fit the shoes of its predecessor. And ultimately, despite the large investment, HBO pulled the plug on the project in 2019. It was a controversial move, but one that HBO's Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys stands by. "It required a lot more invention; it was higher risk, higher reward," Bloys explained. "There wasn't anything glaringly wrong with it. Development and pilots are hard."
The former chairman of HBO's parent company WarnerMedia Robert Greenblatt seconded Bloys' assessment, saying, "It wasn't unwatchable or horrible or anything. It was very well produced and looked extraordinary. But it didn't take me to the same place as the original series. It didn't have that depth and richness that the original series' pilot did."
And what does Martin think of Bloodmoon's pilot? Well, he hasn't seen it. It's been locked away, according to The Hollywood Reporter, alongside the original unaired pilot for Game of Thrones, which was almost entirely re-shot and had several key roles recast.
Bloodmoon's inability to captivate the executives' attention was a disappointment to those involved in the making of the pilot, but gave way to the creation of The House of the Dragon, a story that Martin thought was better suited for television. As the author explained, "I wasn't ready to give up on it."
His years of hard work will pay off when The House of the Dragon premieres on HBO Aug. 21.
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