Winter is coming for HBO. For the last few years, many have wondered how the prestige network will pivot after Game of Thrones comes to an end with its eighth and final season. A couple possibilities have popped up: shows like Westworld and the upcoming Watchmen might fill the genre gap; Thrones spin-offs could retain all those millions of fantasy fans.
Now, HBO programming chief Casey Bloys and new WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt have shared a more detailed blueprint of the networks post-Thrones plans in a handful of new interviews. The hasty summary? HBO is front-loading the rest of 2019 with new shows, like comic-book adaptation Watchmen, the Zendaya vehicle Euphoria (produced by Drake, on his Hollywood flow), and the fantasy adaptation His Dark Materials. Other shows in 2019 include a new season of the reliable comedy Silicon Valley (though it may be that shows last), the drama Succession, and Big Little Lies Season 2.
But all that content also means some shows have to be put on hold. Specifically, the network will keep new seasons of hits like Westworld and Insecure in its back pocket until 2020. The latter move comes, in part, because that shows co-creator, writer, and star, Issa Rae, has been busy with other projects.
“Issa became a big movie star!” Bloys told Vulture. “Were not the first place to deal with this, but when youre in business with very creative and talented people, theres a lot more opportunities for people to do things. Issa, I think, partly wanted a break to come back to it fresh. And I will say, it wasnt exactly random that we ended up [scheduling the show] in the spring, right before Emmys, so that the show should get the Emmy love that it has deserved.”
In the interview, both Bloys and Greenblatt were optimistic about the challenge of filling the Thrones void. Their strategy is talent-forward, Greenblatt noted. “The list of talent is just incredible,” he said, referring to stars with upcoming shows on the network. “Our job is to keep those things coming, month after month after month. If one of them emerges into another Game of Thrones, well be thrilled about that. But you never know when thats going to happen, and its oftentimes the show you least expect. Were bulking up in the right way, which is more volume, but not excessive.”
In an interview with Deadline, Bloys noted that having more shows is part of his strategy, though the network is also trying to be cautious about having too much, too quickly for the streaming wars ahead.
“Were trying to do good shows, not necessarily hit a number, and I think a little bit of determining that number will be shows that we think are worthy, and can we deliver to a creator the experience that people have come to expect working at HBO? We dont want to lose that,” he said. “We dont want the volume to get too high that people feel like theyre lost in the shuffle.”
This has long been the networks strategy, as one former HBO executive told Vanity Fair in 2018. “You cant turn HBO into a superstore overnight,” they said. HBO projects “take a very, very long time to gestate and to get right . . . If they really do want to fill the schedule it will take two years—at least—of serious, hardcore, amped-up development to get material thats right.”
In the meantime, the pilot for the first Thrones spin-off, starring Naomi Watts, will shoot in June, though no release date has been set. When asked by Vulture if 2020 was a possibility for the series, Bloys demurred. Well just have to wait.
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Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Game of Thrones Transformations: Season 1 to Season 8
Maisie Williamss Arya has grown from spunky tomboy to deadly assassin.Photo: Left, from AF archive/Alamy; right, courtesy of HBO.
Isaac Hempstead Wright took Bran from innocent kid to . . . whatever the Three-Eyed Raven is.Photo: Left, from AF archive/Alamy; right, courtesy of HBO.
Once upon a time, Lena Headeys queen had long hair and a closet filled with colorful frocks. Now, she rocks a pageboy—and armored black gowns.Photo: Left, from Album/Alamy; right, courtesy of HBO.
In Season 1, Emilia Clarkes princess was sold into marriage to a stranger; now, shes a warrior queen with three—no, two dragons at her back.Photo: Left, from HBO/Album/Alamy; right, courtesy of HBO.
No other characters coming-of-age has been as traumatic as that of Sophie Turners character—and nobody else may be as well equipped to survive Season 8.Photo: Left, from PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy; right, courtesy of HBO.
Peter Dinklages Lannister black sheep has kept his quick tongue—and now has a beard and a gnarly scar to boot.Photo: Left, from PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy; right, courtesy of HBO.
Long after Kings Landing crumbles into the sea, Conleth Hills Master of Whisperers will abide—looking exactly as appealingly sinister as always.Photo: Left, from AF archive/Alamy; right, courtesy of HBO.PreviousNext