The Game of Thrones prequel is moving full speed ahead — and prior backlash from fans isn’t slowing it down.
President of HBO Programming Casey Bloys revealed during the HBO TCA press tour on Wednesday that despite some fans’ negative reactions towards GoT‘s final season, production for the upcoming prequel series was not affected by the backlash.
“It has not at all,” said Bloys.
“The shooting has wrapped, it looks really good, the cast was amazing,” Bloys said of the prequel’s pilot, which is set to take place roughly 5,000 years before the events of the HBO series.
The exec added that the pilot is currently in the edit bay, and while he has not seen the finished cut, he said they are “looking forward” to seeing what comes of it.
During the HBO hit series’ final season, fans created a petition on Change.org for the writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to redo the final season. The petition has amounted to over 1.6 million signatures and, as Bloys explained, was not something HBO could have foreseen.
“I take all of the activity around the finale as, there are very, very few downsides to having a hugely popular show,” he said. “One I can think of is when you try to end it, many people have opinions on how it should end. That comes with the territory. A petition shows a lot of enthusiasm and passion for the show, but it wasn’t something we seriously considered.”
Despite the backlash, the series earned the most Emmy nominations in a single season of television in history, with 32 total.
“I didn’t dance, but I did enjoy it,” Bloys said, calling the nominations a “certainly nice validation.”
The exec also revealed how much input the network had on the last several seasons, which is when the series no longer went off the storylines from George R. R. Martin‘s novels.
“When a show, I’ll speak generally … when a show is in its sixth, seventh, eighth season of highly successful run, there’s a rhythm between showrunners and network and what they expect,” Bloys explained.
“There was minimal back and forth,” he added, citing Silicon Valley as another HBO series that also has minimal network intervention in its storylines.
The Game of Thrones prequel began filming in Northern Ireland in June, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly earlier this month, Martin, 70, revealed that the fan-favorite Stark family would definitely be around.
However, don’t expect to see any villainous Lannisters in Westeros 5,000 years back.
“The Lannisters aren’t there yet, but Casterly Rock is certainly there,” he said of the future Lannister homestead. “It’s like the Rock of Gibraltar. It’s actually occupied by the Casterlys — for whom it’s still named after in the time of Game of Thrones.”
The prequel also predates dragons, unfortunately — but don’t despair, because Martin promises other creatures will be featured.
“Obviously the White Walkers are here — or as they’re called in my books, The Others — and that will be an aspect of it,” Martin said. “There are things like direwolves and mammoths.”
As previously announced, the prequel will star Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (King Kong), Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth), and Denise Gough (Broadway’s Angels in America). Martin and Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kick-Ass) are the creators of the new series, with Goldman serving as the showrunner. (Benioff and Weiss, the showrunners of the original series, will not be involved.)
A premiere date for the prequel series has not yet been announced, but according to EW, Bloys previously said that it will not air until at least a year after the conclusion of GOT, which came in May. If greenlit to series, the project theoretically could be on the air in 2020 or 2021.