HBO has announced that they're going to make a pilot of one of the long-trailed Game of Thrones prequel sagas.
While that's not a commitment to make a whole series, it's a pretty solid indicator that HBO like the direction that the spin-off's heading in and want to see what it'll look like on the screen.
So what else do we know about it?
It's been written by Jane Goldman
Goldman wrote both Kingsman films, Kick-Ass, and Stardust, and worked on the plot for the pilot with George RR Martin. Goldman will serve as the showrunner too. Contrary to what HBO said last year, GoT producers Dan Weiss and David Benioff won't be involved as executive producers. Writers currently developing other potential spin-offs are Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island), Carly Wray (Mad Men, Westworld), Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential) and Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones).
The action takes place thousands of years before the main series
We've already been warned off expecting established characters to pop up, and HBO's statement about the pilot and mooted series says that the story will follow "the world's descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour", meaning that we'll be delving into the deep mythos of Westeros rather than hanging around in the same time window as GoT. This is the time when House Stark fought House Bolton and tried to unite the North under one king. We'll probably meet House Stark founder Bran the Builder and Lann the Clever, who set up the House of Lannister.
It won't focus on Dunk and Egg
That's Ser Duncan the Tall and Aegon the Unlikely, to give them their full titles. They're the central characters of Martin's Tales of Dunk and Egg prequel novellas set about 90 years before the 'Song Of Ice And Fire' saga begins, and Martin has already ruled them out of carrying the prequel series.
But we will see the White Walkers' origins
That's according to HBO's statement on confirming the pilot. "From the horrifying secrets of Westeros' history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend… it's not the story we think we know," it said. That might well mean that the story will focus on the White Walkers' defeat by the Children of the Forest and the building of the Wall.
The spin-off will have Game of Thrones-level budgets
"$50 million [per season] would never fly for what we are trying to do. We are going big," HBO's Senior VP Drama Francesca Orsi told the INTV conference in March, referring to the kind of cash the early seasons of GoT were put together for. Obviously that's not exactly a shoestring budget, but when the final season of GoT is costing upwards of $15 million an episode that's a serious pile of Gold Dragons.
There are a lot of spin-offs in production but only one will become a series
Orsi said we can expect "three, four, five spin-offs" set in the GoT universe, and that given the wild success of GoT it'd be "corporate malfeasance" not to make as much out of the universe as possible. However, the pilots and scripts will be going into a kind of trial-by-combat to see which one gets turned into a full series. As HBO's President of Programming Casey Bloys put it, "The bar set by [Game of Thrones] is so high that my hope is to get one show that lives up to it."
We'll have to wait until after the end of Game Of Thrones season eight
That means the second half of 2019 at the earliest. Boo.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.