Friday, 29 March 2013

GoT producers will not wait for GRRM to finish the books

The question of what HBO will do once - or if - Game of Thrones catches up with the published novels is slowly becoming more pressing as the series continues to relentlessly bear down on the books ("like a freight train," according to George R.R. Martin). Indeed, I asked this very question a few weeks ago and it's becoming a common one for both Martin and the show's executive producers and showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, to be asked at Q&As and interviews.

D.B. Weiss, George R.R. Martin and David Benioff, with castmembers Rose Leslie and Emilia Clarke.

We now have one firm answer. Benioff and Weiss have confirmed that, although their #1 preference is for the books to come out first, they will not put the show on hiatus for a year or two as some fans have suggested. They do not want to lose momentum or have to recast the younger actors.

They're as worried about when the remaining books come out as you are: Actually, "I guess we spend more time worrying than the fans," Benioff said. The two of them visited Martin at his home in Santa Fe back in February to pump him for information about where all the stories are going, so they can properly set them up in the world of the show, and "It was incredibly useful," according to Benioff.

"There's no question that this will be better for us if the books come out before the various seasons come out," Benioff added. "That said, we're not going to take a two-year hiatus (to wait for a book). The little kids are growing older, the show's got momentum now, and the show must go on. We're just hopeful that it will all time out."
Finally! The claims that the multi-million dollar show could go on hiatus for years on end whilst they patiently wait for the final two books were always extremely unrealistic, and it's good to have that officially spelled out at last. Note that this does not mean that they will catch up with Martin - they still have several years' grace and Martin is some way into the next book - but they are prepared for the possibility.

In addition, Benioff and Weiss have reiterated that, whilst they know the audience wants 12 episodes a year or more, they cannot physically make any more. I've always been doubtful about that claim. Whilst GoT's production schedule is hectic, it's nowhere near as hectic as others. Doctor Who shoots 14 episodes a year by filming over nine months (as compared to GoT shooting 10 over six), so GoT can definitely step it up. They'd need to delegate more scripts to other writers and HBO would need to invest more money, but given the show's overwhelming popularity this should not be insurmountable.

In another interview (the link eludes me for the moment) Benioff and Weiss also said that the show was approaching its halfway point, seemingly confirming speculation that the show is going to last for 7 or 8 seasons.


David H. said...

Final two books? I think you mean final THREE books... Last I heard, Martin threw in another volume.

Anonymous said...

They might not stop production altogether, but maybe they produce a prequel season in between? Wasn`t there rumor that the Dunk & Egg stories were considered for just that occasion? And did Spartacus not do the same thing when the lead actor became very ill? So, fans would not have to wait for a new GoT fix, but that would buy GRRM another year.

But if you are correct to assume that the show will have 7 or 8 seasons, then how are they going to cram four big books into those seasons? I remember some time ago when Benioff & Weiss pitched the show as 90hours of storytelling to HBO. And I think they would need at least 8 seasons.


Mike Bonsiero said...

The unspoken thing here is that they can't really wait because waiting a year could mean waiting 3 or 4. Pushing back the series a couple of months if that is what it came too wouldn't be a huge deal, but there's no predictable timeline for GRRM to finish a book.

I don't mean this as a criticism of Mr. Martin; his time is his own and his prioritization of projects is his own to make. But if he doesn't have a firm deadline they could wait a year and still not have the book out before they shoot.

As a fan of the books, my hope is that having the timeline of the TV show breathing down his back will spur him to get the books out a little bit faster than he otherwise would have.

Adam Whitehead said...

"Final two books? I think you mean final THREE books... Last I heard, Martin threw in another volume."

Heard where? GRRM has said he wants to finish it in seven. He hasn't 100% ruled out expanding to eight, but it is definitely not the plan or expectation at the moment.

Going to eight would, of course, mean that the TV show finishes before the books in any case.

"They might not stop production altogether, but maybe they produce a prequel season in between?"

I don't think so. You'd still lose momentum, the actors would still get older and you'd risk losing these (very much in-demand, now) actors to other TV shows and movies. I can D&E being produced as a series of one-off TV movies, or a full ongoing series (either alongside GoT or once GoT finishes), but under no circumstances as a stopgap for the series proper.

GRRM has also expressly ruled out ever making a Robert's Rebellion series (either on TV or in the books), before someone wheels out that old chestnut as well.

@ Bonzi: yup, that's the issue. That's something I think GRRM would agree with: if he can't give them or anyone else a 100% firm release date for the books, they have no choice but to proceed on the assumption it won't be ready in time, on the grounds that if they're wrong and he does get the books out it's great. If they're banking on him delivering the books in a certain timeframe and he fails, and they haven't taken precautions against that, the situation would be much worse.

It is possible that TRUE BLOOD and/or BOARDWALK EMPIRE will conclude in the next couple of years, and GAME OF THRONES might be dropped back in the year to fill one of their slots, which would buy everyone a few more months, but that's obviously a one-time thing.

Anonymous said...

Im of the thought, and I know it would be an unpopular one. I would like the TV story to divirge from the Book story. It would allow for an alternate universe telling with the same setup.

I mean, I'm already going to have the official cannon in book form, to enjoy and be surprised by. But the show could serve as a fun, fan fiction account of what the HBO team would do.

Why not have two versions of the same series.

Bryan said...

Hi Adam,

Cogman here. Sorry if this is off topic, but regarding your recent convo w/ Mo Ryan on Twitter about why we don't do more than ten episodes a season... here's a quote from a new EW interview w/ D&D:

" would be great, but we just can’t. It was getting to the point where we were turning in VFX shots on “Blackwater” [last season] a week before airing. It was getting to the point where Quality Control in New York for HBO had to get the tapes couriered with 20 minutes to spare. There’s no possible way for us to do an extra hour."

It has nothing to do with the scripts or how many writers we have on staff -- though I appreciate the thought about me getting more than one per season! We'll see. :) We have our season scripts complete long before most shows, because they have to be. From a production standpoint, for us to maintain our standard of quality, it's gotta be 10 per season. D&D and our production team work on this show year round -- I say it again, year round. They don't get a hiatus.

Thanks for the support! Just wanted to clear that up.


Russ said...

I don't know...Am I the only one who thinks it will be a train wreck if the show passes the books?

I can't speak for anyone else, but if that happens, I'm not watching the show and spoiling the upcoming book.

RaisinGirl said...

I've seen enough from everyone involved with the show to have confidence in their ability to carry the story forward with or without the books. I assume GRRM has or could lay out the broad brush strokes of the final two books and Benioff and Weiss could fill in the details with their own vision. I think it would be interesting to see where they take it. If that means we have two versions of the story then so be it.

Adam Whitehead said...

Hi Bryan, thanks for your input. The sheer scale of the show's production schedule is impressive, but the question does arise of how ROME managed to make 12 episodes given its similar international scope. Of course, they did have more money - which presumably HBO could make available if the show's popularity continues to increase - but also more time, with more than 18 months between its two seasons. And I'm sure no-one wants to have to wait more than 18 months between future seasons of GoT.

Completely OT (again), but over on GoT Wiki we've been amassing questions for the writers if any wanted to stop by. Obviously you're extremely busy, but there are one or two niggles we'd love to have cleared up if you have the time. Thanks :)


Bryan said...

All due respect to ROME but that show didn't have near the amount of scope, storylines, cast members, number of countries (5 in S3) and VFX as we do...

And you're quite right, 18 months between season ain't an option. :)



Alf said...

I think 8 books is really needed given the meandering nature of AFFC and parts of ADWD (though that had significant progress as well) - ...even though I'll be seriously worried about my superannuation savings by the time it comes out. The TV show overtaking the series is something I'd prefer not to happen - but I'd still much prefer the quality of the story not to decrease just to cram all the plot into 2 novels - heck - the blond muse hasn't even made it to Westeros yet - surely she deserves 2 books in the continent she is supposedly destined to rule (even if dragons ripping up the countryside could be done in 2 chapters....)

Anonymous said...

@Adam Whitehead:
Eh, according to Wikipedia, Rome shot its first season from March 2004 to May 2005 - some 13 or 14 Months. That doens´t include pre- and post-production, obviously...

So i don´t think that helps your argument, quite the contrary, actually.

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer it if HBO finished the series, after the last two crappy books.