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A new book titled "Tinderbox: HBO's Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers" by the journalist James Andrew Miller includes one key financial detail about the first abandoned "Game of Thrones" prequel series. An executive working for the company at the time said HBO spent $30 million on a pilot episode for a show that isn't expected to ever see the light of day.
Bob Greenblatt, the former chairman of WarnerMedia entertainment, was interviewed for the book and told Miller about how he came into the conversation after showrunner Jane Goldman's pilot for a prequel was already in production.
"They had spent over $30 million on a 'Game of Thrones' prequel pilot that was in production when I got there," Greenblatt said. "And when I saw a cut of it in a few months after I arrived, I said to Casey, 'This just doesn't work and I don't think it delivers on the promise of the original series.' And he didn't disagree, which actually was a relief."
The "Casey" he's referring to here is Casey Bloys, HBO's chief content officer and one of the executives who helped oversee all things "Game of Thrones" at the end of its run.
"So we unfortunately decided to pull the plug on it," Greenblatt continued. "There was enormous pressure to get it right and I don't think that would have worked."
HBO didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Greenblatt's comments about the canceled pilot.
A group of "Game of Thrones" prequel ideas was announced to be "in development" at HBO back in 2017. A year later, news broke that HBO was moving ahead with a pilot for a series that would be set "thousands of years before the events of 'Game of Thrones,'" likely during the legendary Long Night.
But in 2019, fans were surprised by a double dose of news from HBO. After filming for the first prequel pilot was complete, the series was shelved. On the same day that fans learned that Goldman's prequel series wouldn't move ahead, HBO announced that a full 10-episode season of a completely separate prequel called "House of the Dragon" had been greenlighted.
At the time of HBO's announcement that the first "Game of Thrones" prequel wouldn't move forward, the company didn't provide much of an explanation. It said in a statement to Insider: "After careful consideration, we have decided not to move forward to series with the Untitled Game of Thrones prequel. We thank Jane Goldman, S.J. Clarkson, and the talented cast and crew for all of their hard work and dedication."
In "Tinderbox," Greenblatt said things had been "going well in the development process" with "House of the Dragon," which is helmed by Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal.
"I'm the one who encouraged Casey to greenlight it to series," Greenblatt told Miller. "I said, 'Let's not risk $30 million on a pilot.' You can't spend $30 million on a pilot and then not pick it up. So I said, 'Let's not make a pilot. Let's get a great series that we feel good about, and just make it. Or not.'"
Greenblatt also told Miller that HBO was "minting so much money" that the company had "lost a lot of discipline." He believed the approach to creating expensive shows that might fail or have production issues needed to be "overhauled."
Now, "House of the Dragon" is set to premiere in 2022. You can read everything we know about the new show here. The first trailer for the upcoming series has already teased neat connections to "Game of Thrones" and author George R.R. Martin's books, including a familiar catspaw dagger and a new design for the Iron Throne.
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