Will ‘Game of Thrones’ Ever Really Be Over? Unlikely

When “Game of Thrones” lastly wraps up on May 19, at the least one of the story’s central figures would really like the top to be the precise finish.

“Why [expletive] with it?” Emilia Clarke, the Dragon Queen herself, stated just lately.

“It’s a phenomenon that no one ever saw coming, so I completely understand why anyone would be like, let’s make 1,500 more since that’s a recipe that works,” she added. “I just don’t think they should.”

Pop tradition tendencies and market pressures may finally work in opposition to her, nevertheless, and a prequel pilot is already within the works. So as HBO’s largest ever hit prepares to start its ultimate season on April 14, a definitional query hangs over its future: Is “Game of Thrones” a collection? Or is it a universe?

Based on viewing, trade affect and international consideration, “Thrones” is one of the most important blockbusters in TV historical past. But as big companies purchase each other and plan bottomless new streaming platforms in an ever extra feverish battle on your eyeballs and leisure , blockbusters will not be sufficient anymore.

So whereas there are solely six episodes remaining within the sprawling saga of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion and pals, we’ve seemingly solely begun exploring Westeros.

Consider “Star Wars.” Since Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion, it has strip-mined the franchise, conceiving a number of film trilogies, stand-alone movies and TV collection, in addition to an infinite presence in Disney’s theme parks. (Next up for the “Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss: A collection of “Star Wars” films.)

Or Harry Potter (like “Game of Thrones,” half of the WarnerMedia empire), which after the eight movies primarily based on the books is now deep into the “Fantastic Beasts” prequel collection, and likewise has vacationer sights all over the world.

Or the mightiest popular culture universe of all: Disney’s Marvel, which later this month will shut out the “Avengers” filament of the Marvelverse, with “Avengers: Endgame,” however in June lengthen the X-Men department with “Dark Phoenix,” starring Sansa Stark herself, Sophie Turner.

So wouldn’t the phenomenally well-liked (and profitable) “Game of Thrones” be a main candidate for the same therapy?

The case in favor consists of almost each element surrounding the present. In February, AT&T obtained final clearance for its $85.four billion merger with HBO’s company mother or father Time Warner, and can launch a WarnerMedia streaming platform to compete with coming providers from Disney — which additionally simply closed a $71.3 billion deal to purchase 21st Century Fox — and Apple, together with the present stalwarts Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

The streaming service will draw from Warner’s huge assortment of movies and reveals from properties like Warner Bros. and Turner in addition to HBO. HBO Now, the community’s present streaming app, is anticipated to stay round however HBO’s unique collection and different choices might be included into the WarnerMedia service, which means “Game of Thrones” might seem alongside the likes of Harry Potter films, “Wonder Woman” and “Friends.”

John Stankey, the AT&T government put in cost of WarnerMedia, has stated HBO will get an even bigger programming funds with a purpose to ramp up production. “We want to increase our investment in premium content,” he stated final summer season on an earnings name. How a lot, if any, of that content material might be “Thrones”-related is an open query. (AT&T declined to remark.) But the telecom presumably didn’t purchase Time Warner simply to let one of its most beneficial items of mental property go darkish.

“Thrones” can be already primarily based on a universe, the Song of Ice and Fire collection created by George R.R. Martin, that’s so dense with historical past and lore, it might gas dozens of collection and films.

“The universe is simply too wealthy not to attempt,” stated Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming. “But on the other hand, I also don’t want to do it just to do it.”

The prequel pilot, created by Martin and Jane Goldman, will go into manufacturing this summer season. Set hundreds of years earlier than the occasions of “Game of Thrones,” it’s going to explore the history of the White Walkers and the Stark household, and star Naomi Watts and Miranda Richardson, amongst others. It was one of a number of prequel ideas commissioned by HBO, which hasn’t dominated out transferring ahead with any of the others in some unspecified time in the future.

And beginning subsequent yr, “Thrones” followers — like “Star Wars,” Potter and Marvel devotees — will be capable of get their repair within the flesh.

The Game of Thrones Studio Tour, a 110,000-square-foot vacationer attraction, is slated to open in spring 2020 in Northern Ireland, the place most of the present was produced. The mission, impressed by Warner Bros.’s Harry Potter studio tour outside London, will rework the Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, the place components of “Thrones” have been shot, into an interactive exhibition of the present’s units, costumes, props and weapons.

“It’s going to be an immersive experience where fans will feel like they are inside their favorite sets from the show,” stated Jeff Peters, HBO’s vp for licensing and retail.

Linen Mill Studios would be the first of as many as 4 former “Thrones” filming places in Northern Ireland to be reworked into interactive fan experiences — different potentialities embrace the still-standing units for King’s Landing, in Belfast, and Castle Black and the Wall, in a quarry outdoors the town. While there will not be at the moment plans to create related sights within the United States, “it’s possible,” Peters stated. “We get pitched all the time, and we’re open to a lot of different opportunities.”

It’s price noting that there are some potential obstacles to “Game of Thrones” turning into the subsequent “Star Wars.” One is the firmly TV-MA tenor of the collection — the risqué materials precludes kids from fueling the franchise as actively as they do for others. (HBO argues that this can maintain “Thrones” related even when it doesn’t add extra collection, as new generations uncover the saga.)

Another is HBO itself. The community turned the crown jewel of tv by way of its style and dedication to high quality (the occasional “Arli$$” however). It’s identified for strolling away from quite a few pilots that didn’t meet its normal, and can solely flip the prequel into an precise collection if it lives as much as “Thrones,” Bloys stated. “I want to honor the high bar that Dan and David set with the original show,” he stated.

As a outcome, it’s manner too early to even begin pondering of “Thrones” as a franchise, he added.

“To me, franchise denotes multiple films or multiple TV shows living at the same time,” he stated. “Not having even turned a camera on the prequel just yet, it’s premature to say at this point, to declare we’re going to have multiple series living at once.”

AT&T, nevertheless, has proven no indicators of being a hands-off or significantly affected person proprietor. The former HBO chief government Richard Plepler, as accountable as anybody for the community’s taste-making repute, abruptly left the company two days after the Warner buy obtained ultimate clearance.

There are already indicators that AT&T plans to deal with “Thrones” as another synergistic cog in its company machine. Kristian Nairn, who performed the fan favourite Hodor, was tapped to seem this week at an AT&T retailer in Boston, the place clients might additionally enter a sweepstakes for a seat on a “Dragon Wagon” to the season premiere in New York.

One faction that’s not a lot considering any new variations of “Game of Thrones”: the celebs of “Game of Thrones.”

None of the present “Thrones” actors are concerned with the pilot or have had any position in its growth. The prequel “came as a shock to all of us,” Clarke stated.

The normal sentiment from Clarke and others about any future “Thrones” collection quantities to principally, I want them the perfect, I had the time of my life, however I’m out. (One exception: the ever cagey Varys. “Never say never,” stated Conleth Hill, who performs him.)

This isn’t terribly shocking, given the size and bodily calls for of “Game of Thrones” — and who is aware of which characters will survive the ultimate season? But the continued loosening of TV codecs would appear to open up a lot of alternatives, even for characters that get killed off. What “Thrones” fan wouldn’t need a mini-series or HBO film depicting prehistory like, say, Robert’s Rebellion and the occasions that turned Jaime Lannister into the Kingslayer?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who performs Jaime, hopes the prequel is “even more successful than ‘Game of Thrones,’” he stated. But he’s not considering ever returning to Westeros.

“You could only set yourself up for disappointment,” he stated. “It’s been an amazing 10 years, but 10 years is a fair amount of time.”

Don’t depend on a Sansa mini-series both. “I never want to be in a corset ever again,” Turner stated.

That stated, there may very well be different alternatives for “Thrones” veterans if the present expands into the subsequent nice franchise. Its stars may be on the pinnacle of the popular culture universe now, as the ultimate season attracts close to, however some have been round lengthy sufficient to understand how rapidly such issues can change.

“The cast members that now are so confident about the future,” Coster-Waldau stated. “Five years from now we will all be guides at the Game of Thrones Land.”

Sopan Deb and John Koblin contributed reporting.

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