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We Now Know How Much HBO Spent On Its Failed Game Of Thrones Spin-Off

As soon as HBO's juggernaut flagship show "Game of Thrones" ended, producers were intent on recapturing the magic. Although some would prefer that the series ended a different way, there is no doubt about the finale's popularity. The initial airing of the final episode, "The Iron Throne," brought in 13.6 million viewers (per The Hollywood Reporter). Due to this success, a new show was immediately in the works for the premium channel. The Age of Heroes spin-off was announced even before the final episode of "Game of Thrones” had aired (via Entertainment Weekly). The show would have been set thousands of years before the original story and have an entirely different premise. 

The first spin-off series cast Naomi Watts and other notable actors like Miranda Richardson and Joshua Whitehouse, and was planning to focus on a story of the "Game of Thrones" universe before the Seven Kingdoms even existed (via The Hollywood Reporter). If the series had gone to order, audience members would've gotten even more clarification on the elaborate "Game of Thrones" timeline, but after massive reshoots for the project, HBO ultimately decided to pull the plug. As disheartening as it was to lose out on an entirely different "Game of Thrones" show, the price tag of the original pilot may have factored into HBO's decision.

$30 million is a lot of money to waste

The new book by James Andrew Miller, "Tinderbox: HBO's Ruthless Pursuit of New Frontiers," has been doling out interesting information about the channel's properties, including how much the Age of Heroes pilot cost before being terminated. "They had spent over $30 million on a 'Game of Thrones' prequel pilot when I got there," said WarnerMedia Chairman Bob Greenblatt in the book (via Entertainment Weekly). While $30 million may be an acceptable price for a smash hit, Greenblatt didn't think that the success of the pilot was a sure thing.

"When I saw a cut of it in a few months after I arrived, I said to [HBO chief content officer] Casey [Bloys], 'this just doesn't work and I don't think it delivers on the premise of the original series,'" elaborated Greenblatt. Instead, HBO greenlit a different prequel, "House of the Dragon." This show was allowed to go directly to series in light of the failure of the original pilot, and Greenblatt seems confident that "House of the Dragon" will be more successful. "I'm the one who encouraged Casey to green-light it to series," Greenblatt said. 

Further elaborating on how HBO decided to move forward with "House of the Dragon," Greenblatt told executives that "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.'" At the very least, viewers will get 10 episodes of new "Game of Thrones" content, with a particular focus on the Targaryen line, when "House of the Dragon" premieres in 2022.