HBO Orders ‘Game of Thrones’ Pilot
The trades are reporting that HBO has finally given a pilot order to A Game of Thrones, the first in George R.R. Martin’s bestselling A Song of Fire & Ice series. The television version will be executive produced by David Benioff (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and D.B. Weiss (Halo).
HBO picked up the rights on January 17, 2007 with Variety describing the series as "an epic struggle for power set in a vast and violent fantasy kingdom." Which is putting things mildly. Martin, called by Time as an American Tolkien, has created a sprawling saga with dozens of characters currently projected to be seven volumes long and is a modern day epic fantasy which would be challenging for even premium cable to adapt.
“Fantasy is the most successful genre in terms of feature films given the incredible popularity of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies,” Benioff told The Hollywood Reporter. “High fantasy has never been done on TV before and if anybody can do it, it’s HBO. They’ve taken tired genres and reinvented them — mobsters in The Sopranos and Westerns with Deadwood.
“It’s not a story with a million Orcs charging across the plains,” Weiss said. “The most expensive effects are creature effects and there’s not much of that.”
Ever since the option was announced, the producers have insisted that each season would adapt just one of the thick novels. Martin was also committed to writing at least one episode per season. He began working on the pilot in 2007, completing a first draft in August. A second draft was announced as being completed in June 2008. HBO exercised their option on the series in September before yesterday’s announcement.
A Game of Thrones was released in 1996 and won critical acclaim, earning the Locus Award for Best Novel (Fantasy) while earning nominations at the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards.
The other books in the series are A Clash of Kings (1998), A Storm of Swords (2000), and A Feast for Crows (2005). Announced but not yet delivered, written or scheduled are A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter, and A Dream of Spring. The saga has also led to three novella and act as prequels to the first novel.
Martin actually was at work on Dragons when he realized things were not working and he tossed out much of the work and announced at the Millennium Philcon in 2001 that he was writing a different book to continue the story before resuming Dragons. That became Crows which tightened its focus on a handful of characters while the next book would shift the spotlight to others. An anticipated 2008 publication date came and went and Bantam is hopeful it will receive the manuscript in time for a spring 2009 release.
The one obstacle left is being better than the ten other projects in development at the cable network. Although six are expected to get the series go-ahead, HBO can be choosy under its new regime which jettisoned several other projects already, including Preacher.
Martin plans seven books in the series. The producers intend for each season to span one novel.
THR notes, “Combined with True Blood, this also suggests an interesting, AintItCoolNews-targeted direction for the network. Less edgy-PBS, more R-rated Comic Con.”