Now that Game of Thrones has finished it’s eight-season run, HBO is now turning its attention towards the pilot for Jane Goldman’s Thrones prequel series tentatively titled The Long Night, as that story is said to be taking place thousands of years in the past and is expected to follow the origins of the White Walkers (hence the title). Goldman’s credits include the Kingsman films, X-Men: First Class, Stardust, Kick-Ass, The Woman In Black, Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, and Disney’s live-action Little Mermaid film.
Deadline was able to speak with HBO programming president Casey Bloys about the future of the hit-franchise and gave some blunt details about the offshoots as well. Bloys confirmed that filming on the pilot written by Goldman (would showrun if picked-up to series) and directed by S.J. Clarkson will indeed begin next month in Belfast, Northern Ireland (filming expected to take place at Paint Hall Studios)
DEADLINE: Has the big turnout for the final season and fans’ passion for the show’s end game changed the timeline for the prequel pilot?
BLOYS: “I think this is the last thing you want to do with any show — prequel or not — you try not to rush it. So the last thing I want to do is put that sort of pressure on the prequel because George [R.R. Martin] has created this massive universe. It is within that universe, but Jane [Goldman] has created a different show — it’s not the same show, it’s not the same characters, it’s not the same time frame, it’s not the same dynamic. It’s a tough line to walk, but you want to do a show that is of that world but not a replica.”
“I think [Goldman] has done a great job on the script and SJ Clarkson, the director, is prepping an amazing pilot. We are going to do that pilot and take our time and do it right. Hopefully, I expect we will love it and we will move forward, but I don’t want anything that happened with this final season to dictate anything that is happening in that process.”
DEADLINE: If everything with the pilot goes smoothly, could the prequel series premiere next year?
BLOYS: “I don’t know. I have to get a sense from production when we see scripts for a season, how big and involved it is. Shooting a pilot in June and having it on the air a year later feels a little rushed, but it’s too soon to tell.”
DEADLINE: Any update on the pilot?
BLOYS: “The casting was completed a couple of weeks ago. They are busy in Belfast prepping and getting ready to start shooting in a couple of weeks.”
The cast being complete would likely mean they’ve cemented the actors they’re planning on using for the pilot. Those so far include Naomi Watts, Georgie Henley, Jamie Campbell Bower, Miranda Richardson, Josh Whitehouse, Naomi Ackie, Sheila Atim, Denise Gough, Alex Sharp, Toby Regbo, John Simm, Dixie Egerickx, John Hefferman, Ivanno Jeremiah, Richard McCabe, and Marquis Rodriguez.
Bloys also commented on the recent reveal from creator/author George R.R. Martin that there are a bunch of other shows in works over at HBO, seemingly quelling that talk for the moment. Which makes sense as they haven’t even figured out if The Long Night is even getting a series order.
DEADLINE: Author George R.R. Martin recently said that three of the Game of Thrones offshoots, including the prequel pilot, are moving “nicely” at HBO. Can you tell us which the other two are?
BLOYS: “Here is what I will tell you. I wanted to get through the final season and let that stand as a cultural moment. We have the pilot starting in June and then we will decide whether to want to do another one or not. I’m letting those things happen before we decide whether to do another one or not.”
DEADLINE: Could there be more than one beyond the prequel starring Naomi Watts?
BLOYS: “I doubt it, I don’t think so. I certainly do not want to overdo it. We have so many varied shows coming up in 2019 and ’20 and even into ’21. I think Game of Thrones is a fantastic property but I don’t want to just be the home of prequels and sequels and all that stuff. I think you want to be really careful about how you do it. That’s why we’ve been working on the Jane pilot for a long time, because we want to do it right. I think the last thing fans would want is something that was rushed out just to make it to air.”
I’m certainly excited for more stories and characters set in this universe created by Martin, along with learning more about this upcoming series/pilot they’re about to shoot.