Game of Thrones’ Creators Confirm HBO Turned Down Movie Trilogy Idea

Promotional image for 'Game of Thrones' featuring the cast in front of the Iron Throne

Maybe it could have been an improvement over what we ultimately got? In 2020, George R.R. Martin, the author of A Song of Ice & Fire, first disclosed that the original plan for wrapping up the HBO series Game of Thrones was to produce a trilogy of films for theatrical release instead of a conventional television finale. A recent profile in the Wall Street Journal saw David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners, confirming that their initial idea for concluding the acclaimed HBO series did indeed involve wrapping up the narrative across a series of movies, rather than splitting the final 13 episodes over two seasons.

However, Benioff and Weiss revealed that HBO rejected their ambitious proposal to conclude the saga of the Starks, Lannisters, Targaryens, Tyrells, and others with a witty comment, with Benioff mentioning that network executives reminded them that HBO stands for “Home Box Office, not Away Box Office.” Given HBO’s history of prioritizing the home viewing experience and releasing very few projects theatrically, particularly considering Game of Thrones was a major revenue source at the time, the decision made practical sense.

Nevertheless, there’s a lingering sense of “what if?” surrounding the decision. Had more time and attention been devoted to crafting the three films, it’s conceivable that it might have resulted in a more satisfying conclusion to the show, which, after simmering slowly for six seasons, suddenly accelerated towards its end almost too hastily. The resolution of the Iron Throne’s fate, the character arcs of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, and the storyline of the Night King, in particular, were highly contentious and felt rushed.

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

Why Were the Final Seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ Criticized? As the series approached its conclusion, many viewers felt that the storytelling became hurried. The final seasons attempted to cover a vast amount of plot within a limited number of episodes, resulting in the perception that storylines were condensed and the rich, detailed storytelling that characterized earlier seasons was sacrificed. Both critics and fans were disappointed with how certain character arcs were resolved, arguing that years of character development were disregarded or concluded unsatisfactorily. Some key characters appeared to act contrary to their established motivations and personalities.

Perhaps most significantly, the last seasons ventured beyond George R.R. Martin’s books. While Benioff and Weiss were provided with guidance on how to wrap up the story from Martin, ultimately it was their responsibility to navigate the show to its conclusion, with some viewers feeling that the quality of writing suffered as a result, lacking the depth and complexity provided by Martin’s novels.

Sansa Stark walking with her direwolf, Lady, in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones and its prequel series, House of the Dragon, are currently available for streaming on Max, with an additional spin-off, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, slated for release soon.

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