In a historic move, yesterday's UK referendum on whether or not to stay in the European Union has resulted in 51.9% of voters choosing to leave, news that was followed shortly thereafter by Prime Minister David Cameron announcing his resignation. The move is expected to have widespread implications on everything from the fate of the world economy, to the U.S. presidential election, to the cost of vacations to the UK. Also, there’s the important matter of Game of Thrones.
Ever since the “Brexit” became a possibility, some fans of HBO’s popular series have wondered what effect a change in Britain’s status would have on its production. No, not because a majority of the show’s characters speak with English accents (even New Jersey-born Peter Dinklage), but because Game of Thrones does much of its filming in Northern Ireland, including the majority of interior scenes, while other scenes are filmed another European Union country, Croatia.
Fortunately, Game of Thrones fans can rest easy. The concerns about the show rethinking its filming locations or having to work with a slightly smaller budget were based on the fact that Game of Thrones has in past drawn production funds from the EU-administered European Regional Development Fund, which could be put in jeopardy by the Brexit. But according to an HBO statement to Entertainment Weekly, the series hasn’t accepted money from that fund in several years - and they don’t expect the referendum results to have any effect on production going forward. The series does receive money from some regional funds, but not any affected by the referendum. According to HBO: “We do not anticipate that the result of the EU Referendum will have any material effect on HBO producing Game of Thrones.”
Game of Thrones’ future seasons were never in too much danger, even if the outcome of the referendum had resulted in the loss of those production funds. Without being privy to the sorts of financials that HBO tends to keep close to the vest, it’s pretty clear that Game of Thrones at this point delivers so much revenue from so many different streams that it likely dwarfs whatever government incentives it may have gotten. Therefore, HBO would have either been in a position to demand cooperation from governments, or be able to eat the loss without much effect. Paying a little more for production would likely dwarf whatever HBO would lose from delaying the next season.
However, the same cannot necessarily be said for the rest of the film and television industry in the UK. Earlier this week the Creative Industries Federation, an independent body whose members include Disney, NBC Universal and Fox, revealed that a recent survey had found that 96% of its members were in the Remain camp. In the wake of the results being finalized, the Independent Film & Television Alliance's chairman Michael Ryan said that the decision was "a major blow" that is "likely to be devastating" for the UK creative sector.
Game of Thrones’ season 6 finale, "The Winds of Winter," is set to air Sunday night on HBO, HBO Go and HBO Now.