The Game of Thrones franchise has experienced some incredible highs and terrible lows over the last decade. After the launch of the flagship HBO series in the early 2010s, based on the book series written by George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones became one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the decade. The show was consistently breaking viewership records, and it was impossible to avoid any sort of conversation about or reference to the series wherever you went. While the final season posted the usual astronomical viewership numbers, the reaction to the show’s conclusion was less than stellar. People were incredibly disappointed at the end of Game of Thrones, and now the greatness of that show is frequently overshadowed by this widespread dissatisfaction.
For a while, it seemed like the failures of the final season had killed the Game of Thrones franchise as a whole. However, then came House of the Dragon, which showed that the immense potential in adapting the works of Martin was far from gone. The debut season of House of the Dragon easily became one of the most applauded and buzzed-about seasons of television in 2022, and the second season is one of the most anticipated television events of 2024. There had been a few attempts at bringing the world of Westeros back to screens, but House of the Dragon was the first to actually make its way to audiences.
House of the Dragon did the impossible; it actually saved the legacy of Game of Thrones. With that, the franchise is once again at an incredible cultural height. While HBO is already developing several additional Game of Thrones spin-off and prequel shows, we believe the franchise’s potential expands beyond the medium of television. Given the current standing of Game of Thrones, now would be the best time to produce a new feature film set in Westeros. Here’s why:
The Building Universe of George R. R. Martin
Like any great fictional world, the stories of Game of Thrones extend far beyond the primary plot seen in the core HBO series and the books it was based on. The world of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is full to the brim with extensive histories, faraway lands, different cultures and all sorts of mystical and mythological elements. To general audiences, this has already been proven true with House of the Dragon, which unfolds several hundred years prior to the events of the Game of Thrones series.
The lore of Martin’s world is dense and never-ending. Even if you were to focus on just the Targaryen family line, there are at least a half-dozen different major stories that would warrant being adapted. If HBO and WB were to expand the Game of Thrones franchise with a feature film, they would have countless options for what that film could be. It could follow Bran the Builder, the founder of House Stark, who was responsible for the building of the Wall separating the Westerosi kingdoms from the cold wastelands of the far North. Another idea would be to continue the stories of familiar characters, such as Kit Harrington’s Jon Snow, or to explore another prequel story, like the rebellion against House Targaryen led by Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon and Jon Arryn.
Previous Attempts at a Game of Thrones Film
Although there has yet to be a feature film based on Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, that is not for lack of effort. There have been numerous attempts at bringing the stories of Westeros and beyond to film, but none of them have actually materialized in any meaningful way. Prior to the debut of the hit HBO series in 2011, Martin had been approached with pitches to adapt his books to film on numerous occasions. While there was interest almost immediately after Martin published the first book, A Game of Thrones, in 1996, it skyrocketed following the success of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the early 2000s. However, Martin was always wary of approving any adaptation of his core books to film, as the narrative in them is so dense that it would take multiple films to faithfully adapt just one of the books. Clearly, Martin eventually made a deal with David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and HBO to adapt the books into what became the series we all know today.
After Game of Thrones proved to be a huge hit, but before its disappointing conclusion, there was already a lot of conversation happening about how the franchise could be expanded. Martin has confirmed that, at one point, there was an idea to conclude the HBO series with a feature film event. This means that, instead of the climactic season eight that we got, HBO and Warner Bros. would have produced and released a theatrical film to serve as the finale for the story. While this obviously did not come to fruition, it does show that HBO, Warner Bros., and Martin understand the cinematic potential that lies in the franchise.
Among the various spin-offs that have been put into development following the conclusion of Game of Thrones in 2019, most have been intended to be television series; but not all of them have been. Specifically, just last year, it was reported by Variety that HBO and Warner Bros. were actively discussing a film that could be built out of the series. The idea for the film is that it would focus in some way on Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen to lay claim to the lands of Westeros after his family escaped the Doom of Valyria generations prior. It’s unclear if this film is still on the table or if HBO has instead shifted focus solely to House of the Dragon, but a film about Aegon the Conqueror would be an ideal candidate for bringing this franchise to the big screen, as it includes all the political turmoil that makes Game of Thrones great as well as the grand action and narrative that would be necessary for a cinematic outing.
Why a Movie Should Follow House of the Dragon
It’s clear that there are plenty of stories to warrant a feature film based in the world of Game of Thrones; but why now? It’s precisely because the Game of Thrones franchise is at a major transitional point right now. While the first season of House of the Dragon was a great success, the franchise as a whole is still re-establishing its foothold in the aftermath of the Game of Thrones conclusion. The boundaries are still being set for what Game of Thrones looks like after the flagship series. With that, developing a feature film now makes more sense than it has arguably at any time before.
It’s clear that HBO and Warner Bros. are planning on bringing a number of different spin-off and prequel stories to life. By including a feature film among them, it quickly establishes that Game of Thrones will not always be a television event. It introduces the idea to audiences that the Game of Thrones series can exist and be just as great in a cinema, rather than the solely-at-home experience it has been so far. It will also show that the franchise is strong enough to compete with many of the other major franchises out there that operate on both big and small screens, such as Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings.