It sounds like a case of go Hardhome or go home - as HBO plans to spend large amounts of money on its upcoming Game of Thrones TV show spinoff(s).
After a disastrous pilot that nearly doomed the Seven Kingdoms before it even hit screens, Game of Thrones started again to premiere on HBO back in 2010. Since then, the world of Westeros has overtaken the fame of George R.R. Martin's books to become one of the biggest shows on network television. However, with only six episodes left of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' series, HBO is branching out with five potential spin-off shows to keep the Game of Thrones legacy alive.
Reports of spin-off/prequel shows have been circulating since early 2017, and while fans are still no closer to finding out anything about where the stories will head or who will star, HBO execs told Jerusalem's INTV Conference (via Deadline) that something big is coming. HBO senior VP of drama Francesca Orsi warned that viewers should expect something equally epic next time around:
"It feels like corporate malfeasance’ to not continue it, which is why it’s spawned three, four, five Game of Thrones spin offs."
Despite the final run of Thrones episodes being reduced even more than season 7's batch of just seven, the budget for season 8 is set to clock in at upwards of $15 million per episode. It is a far cry from paying Sean Bean to walk around the Winterfell courtyard in season 1, but Orsi also admitted that it raises questions over where the spin-offs will start:
“There is a conundrum if we do take off on one of these Game of Thrones spin-offs, where do we start? We can’t obviously start with the budget of season 8 but would it be a Game of Thrones season three budget?”
Orsi remained tight-lipped on what sort of budget the network would be working with, but she did confirm that $50 million per season just "wouldn't fly" for what HBO has in mind.
Game of Thrones may have started as a peaceful stroll through the countryside, but the budget of the fantasy epic really began to soar after season 2's 'Blackwater'. Since then, episodes like season 3's 'The Rains of Castamere', season 5's 'Hardhome', season 6's 'Battle of the Bastards', and season 7's 'The Spoils of War' have all cost some eye-watering amounts behind-the-scenes. However, while all of the above have broken the Iron Bank when it comes to spending, they are arguably some of the show's most memorable outings, and have made Game of Thrones the sensation that it is today.
Not all of the spin-offs are expected to make it to a full series order, and it sounds like the network will run a gauntlet of trial and error to see what works and what doesn't. However, with a long-awaited Lord of the Rings TV adaptation and Terry Pratchett's Discworld all vying for the fantasy market on the small screen, the Game of Thrones spin-offs will have to pull something special out of the bag to keep audiences hooked. Either way, programming president Casey Bloys has promised that no work on any spin-offs will begin until the main show wraps - but at least they've got the budget for it!
Game of Thrones season 8 premieres sometime in 2019 on HBO.