Could House of the Dragon’s surprise exit have an impact on the Thrones franchise’s future?

3 Mins read

Whatever your opinion of the contentious final season, Game of Thrones has been around for a while, and its legacy endures. The old dragon may possibly have some life left in it because of several speculated spin-off initiatives.

One such beast, HBO’s popular 2022 program House of the Dragon, has already been let loose on the world. While Matt Smith’s triumphal return to Westeros and the Targaryen dynasty was highlighted by his luscious blonde wig, there appears to have been some drama going on behind the scenes.

Only a few weeks after the series’ debut, at the beginning of September, it was made public that Game of Thrones executive producer and director Miguel Sapochnik was quitting both his position as co-showrunner of House of the Dragon and the entire project.

He noted in his remarks at the time: “Working inside the Thrones universe for the past few years has been an honor and a joy, especially spending the last two with the incredible cast and crew of House of the Dragon. I am overwhelmed by the positive response from our viewers and so pleased of what we were able to accomplish in season one.

The decision to move on was extremely difficult, but Sapochnik said she knew it was the best step for her, both personally and professionally. But knowing that Alan [Taylor] will be a part of the series gives me a great deal of comfort while I do this. I’ve known and respected him for a very long time, and I think he is the best person to be handling this priceless series.

“I am extremely happy to be staying with HBO and the House of the Dragon family. Of course, I wish Ryan [Condal] and his team the best of luck with season two and everything to come.”

It is important to acknowledge Sapochnik’s impact on the show as we have come to know it. He played a significant part in shaping the fictional world of George RR Martin’s Westeros and is responsible for some of the most memorable scenes from the series, such as “The Gift” from season five and “Battle of the Bastards” (an episode for which he won an Emmy) and “The Winds of Winter” from season six.

Given this, his exit from the franchise shocked many devoted fans, especially in light of the fact that House of the Dragon was a major success, setting records for HBO and reaffirming the desire for a continuation of the saga.

Recent reports that speculate on the cause of Sapochnik’s departure have surfaced.

These reports, which were first published in Puck but have since appeared on TVLine, Collider, and Business Insider, to name a few, claim that Sapochnik wanted to include his wife Alexis Raben on the production team for the second season of House of the Dragon. However, HBO reportedly objected to the move because they thought she lacked the necessary experience.

If Raben’s name seems familiar, it’s because she has experience in the Game of Thrones universe, having portrayed Queen Alicent’s maid Talya and working as a producer on Dragon’s inaugural season.

But it’s alleged that Sapochnik left the business when her future with it started to look hazy.

HBO reportedly declined to respond, according to TVLine.

Some had previously believed that Sapochnik, a member of the Game of Thrones franchise’s creative team, would have played a crucial part in the world-building of upcoming prequels and sequels, including the eagerly awaited Jon Snow spin-off. But in light of his departure, this suddenly looks less plausible.

In addition, independent of these recent rumors regarding Sapochnik, it appears that changes within HBO have cast doubt on certain projects with a Game of Thrones theme.

Following a rumor from Hollywood Reporter, George RR Martin revealed in June 2022 that Kit Harington’s project was in progress and has a working title of just “Snow.”

There isn’t much more specific information available at this time than what he stated at the time: “I cannot give you the identities of the writers/showrunners, since that has not been cleared for release yet.”

The project hasn’t even been officially announced by HBO, and it’s currently thought that some of the Thrones spin-offs have been placed on hold due to commercial decisions being made behind the scenes, including the merger of HBO Max and Discovery+.

Martin highlighted some of the various projects he’s working on, including the second season of House of the Dragon, in a post from December 2022 on his website.

And a few of the other successor projects that we’re working on with HBO,” he continued, before pointing out that some of those were progressing more quickly than others as is typical for the production process. None have been approved yet, but we hope that will change shortly.

“A couple has been put on hold, but I do not believe they are dead. Something on the shelf can be removed just as easily as it can be placed there. Undoubtedly, all the changes at HBO Max had an effect on us.

It’s unclear which of the numerous rumored Game of Thrones spin-offs he may have been alluding to, but it appears that there are many factors still up in the air that could affect how Westeros will be depicted in the future.

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