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A Pair of Surprise Decisions Sheds Light on the Spin-Off Future of ‘Game of Thrones’

A Naomi Watts spin-off has been axed, but another focusing on the Targaryens got a green light, HBO announced.

HBO

Dedicated fans of Game of Thrones are better equipped than most to deal with unexpected twists and turns, from the heart-wrenching (Ned Stark’s beheading) to the glorious (Arya stabbing the Night King). Now, months removed from the show’s controversial finale a pair of surprises are greeting fans eager for more stories from the world of Thrones.

First, the bad news: a prequel starring Naomi Watts set thousands of years before the pilot, will not be picked up by HBO, despite the fact that the network already paid for and shot a pilot in Northern Ireland earlier this year.

But in its place, the network is moving forward with another project, this one set merely 300 years before the events of the original series.

House of the Dragon is the title given to the previously rumored show, based on George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, a companion book series to A Song of Ice and Fire. It was created by Martin and Ryan Condal, and it will focus on the Targaryens. Its title and tagline, “Fire Will Reign,” are strong indicators that the show will feature plenty of dragons, which is awesome, because dragons are awesome. Here’s hoping the yet-to-be-announced cast is careful during filming.

HBO announced a ten-episode order for the series at the end of the formal presentation of HBO Max, the network’s upcoming streaming service, to investors.

Martin and Condal, best known for Colony, will write the scripts for the series. The pilot will be directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who won an Emmy as the director of the unmatched “Battle of the Bastards” episode of Thrones. Sapochnik and Condal will serve as showrunners for the series.

On the one hand, we’re definitely bummed and confused that an actress of Watts’s caliber made a pilot that somehow wasn’t up to the network’s standards. On the other hand, HBO’s willingness to axe it points to higher standards that hopefully mean Game of Thrones‘ spin-offs will be better than its final season.