HBO’s dailies for the fantasy pilot “Game of Thrones” look “fantastic,” and the project is ripe for a series pickup, according to the network’s programming chief Michael Lombardo.
Executives are “sitting on pins and needles” waiting to view a rough cut in two weeks, Lombardo said. If the pilot is greenlit, “Game of Thrones” should hit HBO in March or April of 2011, and would span a novels worth of material per season.
Principal photography began in late October in Northern Ireland and wrapped up in Morocco in November. HBO reportedly spent between $5 million and $10 million on the pilot. Now they are apparently looking into booking two hangars at the Northern Ireland Paint Hall filming site for the next five years.
Tom McCarthy, who earned accolades for his work on 2003’s “The Station Agent” and 2007’s “The Visitor,” directed the pilot based on a script penned by the show’s executive producers David Benioff (“Troy,” “The Kite Runner”) and D.B. Weiss.
“Everything looks fantastic,” Lombardo said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “The director got great performances. Unlike a lot of projects like this, everything was shot on location. It has such a rich texture that it looks more expensive than it actually was.”
Based on Martin’s bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the series would follow the treacherous clash between royal families to secure ultimate power of the vast lands of Westeros. Royalty and knights play a perilous game of intrigue, where those gifted with unflinching resolve and a keen eye for subterfuge often conquer more than the greatest armies.
“The fantasy is so incidental, it has a very adult tone,” Lombardo explained. “You forget it’s fantasy while you’re watching it, and that’s what I love about it.”
The pilot will include some CGI for backgrounds and the tale’s “direwolves” — a mixture of real animals and CGI. Also, the series is confirmed to feature each family, like in the books, with its own color pallet for clothing and armor.
“Game of Thrones” stars Sean Bean (“The Lord of the Rings”), as Eddard “Ned” Stark; Lena Headey (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “300”), who will play queen Cersei Lannister; Peter Dinklage as her cunning dwarf brother Tyrion; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“New Amsterdam”) as her twin, Jaime; Jennifer Ehle as Ned’s wife Catelyn Stark; and Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon.
“I would be surprised if it doesn’t” get greenlit, Lombardo said. “It has everything going for it.”