House of the Dragon: Game of Throne Franchise–Prequels, Sequels

The performance of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel could determine how much fans get to see from the broader fantasy franchise.

When House of the Dragon, HBO’s big-budget prequel to Game of Thrones, premieres Sunday night, the future of the Targaryen family won’t be the only thing at stake.

For HBO parent, Warner Discovery, how House of the Dragon lands with audiences, in the U.S. and worldwide, could determine how far the studio is willing to commit to the World of Westeros universe.

House of Dragons
Nathan Fielder in The Rehearsal.

“It’s a big responsibility to take on,” says Ryan J. Condal, showrunner and co-creator, with George R.R. Martin, of House of the Dragon. “Because I feel like the success of this show will dictate how deep the exploration of this universe goes. I think there’s a lot of interest in seeing other corners of this world [but] I think all that will rely heavily on House of the Dragon doing what it needs to do commercially for HBO.”

After the studio canned Batgirl, Warner. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was developing new plan for projects in its DC Universe.

But no word has come yet on what Warners is planning with Westeros post-House of the Dragon.

HBO initially developed 5 pilots, even shooting one– Bloodmoon starring Naomi Watts, set thousands of years before the events of the original Game of Thrones — before finally concentrating on House of the Dragon. The series, which shot before the Warner-Discovery merger, has been set up as a standalone — “We weren’t consciously trying to launch the new Westeros universe, we didn’t seed anything in this show for other series,” notes House of the Dragon executive producer Sara Hess — but its performance could ultimately determine whether Warners greenlights multiple GOT spinoffs, or if the studio’s fantasy empire ends here.

“As a fan, I think the World of Westeros universe is just as rich as the Marvel universe or the Star Wars universe, I think there are plenty of stories left to tell,” says Condal. “But we’re at the very beginning, whereas Marvel and Star Wars have decades of content and characters built up over time. It’s our job to establish that interest and explore the world a little bit more and get people intrigued to ask, ‘Where else can you go with within this world?’”

But if there is to be a future for House of the Dragon and the wider world of Westeros, the show needs to deliver out of the gate. This is all the more important as, unlike Game of ThronesHouse of the Dragon will be rolling out globally simultaneously with its U.S. release. HBO and HBO Max are premiering the series in 61 countries within 24 hours of the U.S. bow, with HBO GO in Asia handling a further seven markets. HBO’s int’l broadcast partners, including Sky in the U.K., Italy and Germany, Crave in Canada, OCS in France, Binge/Foxtel in Australia, U-Next in Japan and Waave in Korea, are also going day-and-date with House of the Dragon and will fly, or fall, together.

Condal says he doesn’t know “exactly what metrics” HBO is using to judge success for House of the Dragon, noting that with the show going out both on linear TV and via streaming, the numbers could be a combination of “viewership plus Netflix-style measurements like minutes watched.” In any case, when House of the Dragon premieres Sunday, it will be out of his hands.

“[Co-showrunner] Miguel Sapochnik and I talked about this from the beginning. We said we can’t make this show defensively, we can’t be guessing what the studio wants us to be or what fans might want in three years time,” he says. “Things at HBO, at Warner, at Discovery have been changing so fast, we can only hold on to our idea. We have a creative vision and we’re going to execute it. This is a new show set in Westeros, but that has to stand on its own merits. Then, we’ll see what happens.”