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Game of Thrones: Crash, Burn and the Aftermath


Game of Thrones, the show, truly started one day in 2006 when the show's primary creators, David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (D&D), underwent a test from author of the source material, George R.R. Martin. He asked them, well before the answer was commonly guessed at in fan forums, who Jon Snow's mother is? They got it right.

Signs of D&D's desire to branch out were there all along. They've admitted to wanting to downplay the fantasy elements of the series. As early as 2014, Dirty White Boys was announced as the duos first feature film production. Dirty White Boys faded from likelihood. Spending this much of your life on something can start to grate on anyone. They got a little trigger happy with concluding the show and against Martin's better judgement, rushed condensed seasons 7 and 8 out, ignoring the amount of material left to cover, and relying completely on their own writers, but mostly, themselves.

A year later, as these moves were being finalized, D&D partnered with HBO for a show immediately following the conclusion of Game of Thrones; their dream project Confederate. In the wake of this July 19, 2017 announcement, public interest was low and it seems clear now that Confederate won't be moving forward. Instead, about 6 months later on February 6 2018 D&D signed with Disney to write and produce the next slate of Star Wars films as soon as the show concluded with release dates slated at 2022, 2024, and 2026. Then, trouble began to brew, trouble well beyond Disney's own minimizing focus on films from the franchise. All was not quiet on the Westeros front.

Game of Thrones: Crash, Burn and the Aftermath

The final season of Game of Thrones is disappointing television, a messy and bungled conclusion to years of patient, intelligent and grand storytelling. The production tried its best to amp up everything they had, to give the show if not a well put together conclusion, at least a bombastic one. But fans only had hate in their hearts for two: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. We are unlikely to see a level of viewer backlash this severe again anytime soon. Lots of this ‘criticism' was downright childish. Fan communities made plans to boo D&D off stage at Comic Con, foiled when they had the good sense not to make an appearance, leaving only the cast to show face. A targeted campaign made it so that to this day, upon googling “Bad Writers” you are greeted with images of the two. 1.5 million signatures on Change.org, a sincere plea to HBO to revamp the series' conclusion with ‘capable writers', but the damage had been done. Even if HBO had done the unthinkable and just rewound the clock to give season 8 another go, public interest just was not there. Game of Thrones had permanently damaged its legacy as a title at the forefront of the Golden Age of TV.

Even D&D seemed to agree that there are some things they would like to have done differently. "Really the only people who are to blame are us – and I sure as hell don't want to blame us." Conversely, producers on the show made spirited defenses, saying that they have no regrets, and that the season was the best work they'd ever done, making a few snarky remarks about armchair writers. George Martin aired some soft-ball grievances: “The [final] series has been... not completely faithful... otherwise, it would have to run another five seasons.”

Coinciding with this, Gemini Man, which David had done some writing for, bombed *hard*, losing somewhere in the compass of $111.1 million. The pair stayed largely silent for a couple of months but made an appearance on a panel at the Austin Film Festival. Here, they gave a small talk including a humble look back at how ill-prepared they were to take on the show. Given the climate at the time, ex-fans seized upon the opportunity to further prove D&D's incompetence. A vocal minority of scorned viewers were out to frame them as audience poison and studios. The effort was hilariously futile.

A few months earlier, D&D had been scooped up by Netflix for a reported $200 million. They're first collaboration, The Chair, will be premiering soon, though D&D are only producers. For their first writing/directing gig, the pair have turned to the massively ambitious Chinese sci-fi novel series The Three-Body Problem. For writers who admit to struggling with the scope of George .R.R. Martin's novels, this is a very daunting choice to assume, "taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until the end of time, from life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe". With their passion reignited, there's a good chance The Three-Body Problem will be just as refreshing to its creators as it could be to audiences.

As for Game of Thrones properties in the wake of D&D-day, a prequel is on the way; House of Dragon. This new series is set 300 years before the events of the show proper, an adaptation of Martin's Fire & Blood, following a civil war involving House Targaryen. It's been made clear that D&D are "entirely hands off" for this project. George Martin has also provided updates acknowledging that out of the five Game of Thrones prequels fans had to look forward to, one has been cancelled already, with only a pilot to its name, three others remain in “active development” and a few more are being planned. House of Dragon is currently filming in the UK, but the question remains; have audiences moved on, or are they waiting eagerly for a return to form for the world of Game of Thrones?