Ready the trumpets fans, we are going back to Westeros for a new adventure. HBO has officially greenlit a follow-up pilot to its acclaimed international hit Game of Thrones and it sounds just as massively ambitious as the original series.
The network has ordered a prequel drama from writer Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass) and GOT author George R.R. Martin. The network has released an official description of the show’s storyline, and it’s another tale spread across multiple locations and groups:
“Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history to the true origin of the white walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend … it’s not the story we think we know.”
According to Martin’s critically acclaimed books, the Age of Heroes began 10,000 years before the events in GoT. Some of the major names which could be characters in the new show include Bran the Builder (who founded House Stark, and oversaw forging of The Wall and Winterfell) and Lann the Clever (who founded House Lannister). The era led into the Long Night — a winter that lasted a generation — and the greatest war against the white walkers. However, that’s what we think we know, and the logline for the new show says this is “not the story we think we know.”
The pilot is still without a title and, if greenlit to series, HBO has previously stated that no successor series will air until a year after GoT has its series finale. Since the eighth and final season of GoT is coming next year, the soonest we can see a successor series is 2020. If ordered to series, this will mark the first time in HBO’s history that the premium cable network has made a sequel (or prequel) series to one of its shows.
Obviously, given the show’s timeline, it’s not expected to use any of the show’s current cast members (though the Night King making an appearance certainly seems possible). GoT showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have elected not to be involved; after finishing the final season the duo will transition to penning a new series of Star Wars films for Disney.
Goldman won a unexpected “competition” that HBO put into motion last fall between five different writers, each tasked with developing a Game of Thrones follow-up series. Insiders have confirmed to us that the other four rumored prequel ideas are still under consideration.
The stakes are reportedly high for HBO. The importance of the franchise to the premium cable network — and to its corporate parent Time Warner, which frequently cites the fantasy drama in investor conference calls — is tough to overstate. GoT is HBO’s most popular series in history, averaging 23 million viewers during its seventh season in the U.S. alone. It’s also the most Emmy Award-winning drama ever made, with 38 Emmys and counting. And despite its steep price tag (the show now costs more than $15 million per episode before marketing), GoT is hugely financially lucrative; HBO owns the show, which it sells worldwide along with an array of merchandising and home video releases.