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Ran

The Competition

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Disclaimer: I don't know anything about how TV works, so I could be way off.

That said.... I would assume that creating an entire pilot episode for A Game of Thrones would be moderately costly, since it requires "period" props (costumes, horses, sets etc). Now, how likely is a network to give the greenlight for producing an expensive pilot if they aren't completely confident in the series? For series that are inherently more expensive, wouldn't the greenlighting of a pilot production be almost the same as greenlighting the series, unless the pilot is really a total disaster (which seems unlikely to me)?

As I said, I really don't know how networks decide those things, maybe it depends on the network or maybe I'm off-based, but it sounds logical to me. If I'm right, though, it'd mean AGoT has very good chances unless the pilot is completely botched. I [i]hope[/i] I'm right. :lol:

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As they say, they're greenlighting a lot of pilots -- some which are just as expensive, I'd guess, as [i]Game of Thrones[/i] is likely to be (mainly thinking [i]Boardwalk Empire[/i]), but they're still only picking up about half of them. If they had complete confidence, they'd skip the pilot route and just give a season order.

The cost of the pilot episode will likely be as much as 50% more expensive as regular episodes in the course of a season. If the pilot doesn't work to their tastes and they choose not to make a season order, that's $3-5 million down the drain, but that's it. If they give a full season order for something that tanks, OTOH, that'll be $25-$50 million gone.

So ... yeah. Just because there's a pilot doesn't gurantee us great odds that HBO is so excited by it that the pilot just needs to be okay for them to go ahead. The pilot needs to nail it, and even _then_ it still may not get picked up, because the production slate at HBO is just that crowded.

If you believe in a deity or deities, prayer would not be inappropriate. A bit venal, but God/the gods will forgive. ;)

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I see. I guess they're not afraid of losing a few millions to make sure they want it or not.

Sorry, 100% atheist here... but I may be willing to make an exception for Cthulhu. Phtagn!

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This all comes down to Benioff, Weiss, HBO, and Martin being able to come together and assemble a competent team in front of and behind the camera. If they can do it, we're golden. If they can't, it will be the end of the road. You can have the greatest source material, but at the end of the day it comes down to the quality of the production. If this meets HBO's need for quality and comes at a reasonable price, we will see at least one season.

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[quote name='Ran' post='1592726' date='Nov 18 2008, 11.46']As they say, they're greenlighting a lot of pilots -- some which are just as expensive, I'd guess, as [i]Game of Thrones[/i] is likely to be (mainly thinking [i]Boardwalk Empire[/i]), but they're still only picking up about half of them. If they had complete confidence, they'd skip the pilot route and just give a season order.

The cost of the pilot episode will likely be as much as 50% more expensive as regular episodes in the course of a season. If the pilot doesn't work to their tastes and they choose not to make a season order, that's $3-5 million down the drain, but that's it. If they give a full season order for something that tanks, OTOH, that'll be $25-$50 million gone.[/quote]

Arn't they just hedging there bets here though they're not giving them $50 mill for something there not 100% about. If AGOT is successful then it's pretty much guaranteed but if it sucks then they don't go forward. I'd say the same goes for Boardwalk and the other shows all seem like throwaways to me they can stay or go but they're all pretty interchangeable.

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Scorsese is listed as a director of one episode on imdbpro. might be the pilot. :/

this could be both good and bad. I've never known a film director to turn in a TV episode on time and underbudget and that will be a factor, if it looks like it's going to always be overbudget and unreliable on the production side. On the other hand its scorsese directing for HBO, people will badly want to see it. AGOT may look like a safer choice if they opt for an experienced TV director.

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Just read on aintitcool that Buscemi is going to be starring in Boardwalk Empire with Scorsese as the definite director of the pilot...really hope that isn't in direct competition with aGoT, since that should get picked up on star power alone.

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I'm disappointed in the lack of proactiveness of our board members. We need to start thinking of ways to sabatoge these other pilots. Let's hear some ideas.

Milch certainly isn't untouchable after the JfC fiasco, but Simon and Scorcese will be tough to beat, they certainly aren't going to mail it in.

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Yikes. That competition is definitely more formidable than one might hope for. Here's hoping the pilot kicks all sorts of ass.

Of the shows listed, I would say that the direct competitors with AGOT would be:

[b]Treme[/b], which, being a David Simon project, has a huge head start and a built in audience amongst [i]The Wire[/i] fans such as myself (in fact, dare I say it, I'm looking forward to this almost as much as AGOT).

[b]Boardwalk Empire[/b]. This one is worrisome. The most worrisome aspects for AGOT are the fact that it's got Scorcese and a [i]Sopranos[/i] producer involved, and that as a period piece is likely to be high budget (meaning in turn, it's less likely that both it and AGOT, which will also be high budget, are picked up). It seems likely that this series would deal with old-school Mafia tropes, which may be an unlikely attempt to recapture the Sopranos lightning in a bottle, but you never count Scorcese out.

[b]Last of the Ninth[/b]. Seems to be in direct competition with [i]Boardwalk Empire[/i], which is good, although if both it and [i]Boardwalk Empire[/i] are picked up, that might be very bad. It's hard to imagine HBO saying no to both Scorcese and Milch, but the shows seem like they'd overlap a bit much and HBO hasn't generally gone that route. With Milch, who knows, anyway.

[b]Suburban Shootout[/b]. A "dark comedy" could fall into competition with AGOT, albeit only peripherally. Still, this sounds lame as hell. Even if Sonnenfeld is directing, that's not anything too major in my eyes. He hasn't made a competent movie since the original "Men in Black" and his TV credits don't set the world on fire.

[b]Bored to Death[/b]. Not too worrysome. Sounds randomly quirky, and while HBO is no stranger to random quirkiness (witness [i]Flight of the Conchords[/i]), they tend not to bet the farm on it. Plus, it just doesn't sound interesting to me.

[b]Gentlemen of Leisure[/b]. Not enough specificity to tell what sort of threat it is, but it sounds like a longshot.

The others - [i]The Washintonienne[/i], [i]Hung[/i], [i]Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl[/i], the Kayne West project, and [i]How to Make it in America[/i] all seem more in competition with one another and less in competition with AGOT. I doubt HBO sits down and says "We need X number of comedies and Y number of dramas", so if the dramas generally hit it out of the park and the comedies tend toward teh suck, it might be weighted one way or another, but I'd find it hard to believe they weren't trying for some kind of balance between the two. And [i]Hung[/i] sounds like the worst idea for a TV show ever. Seriously. How long does it take to get through one's entire repertoire of big-dick jokes?

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It's a very competitive group of shows. Although the comedies sound bad I imagine some of them are going to be comissioned as they will be cheap. If they have a set budget I'd imagine that means 3/4 of the "big" shows and 3/4 of the cheap ones. Again this probably puts AGOT up against the Scorcese show (in terms of cost) and the shows from creators of the wire and deadwood (although at lease Milch made the flop that was John from cincinatti).

The one good thing is that AGOT is unique and, like someone said earlier about catching the black/african american demographic, I think HBO wants to spread out into fantasy. Basically, Preacher and AGOT were both optioned 2 years ago and i think AGOT won out (I'd have still loved to see Preacher too). This suggests to me that some of the execs want to branch into this field, which bodes well. Other good news is the report today about the making of a "Rome" film and how some of the HBO execs regret cancelling the show - probably based on DVD sales and critical reception. Now, out of all those other shows, AGOT is the only one that bears any resemblance to Rome as "historical fantasy". It makes me think they should get a cast member of Rome in AGOT ASAP as if they could tap into that fanbase further, they could be on to a winner.

As for the Camelot show, i read a link on another forum somewhere and it's going to be on showtime by the folks doing the tudors - Merlin is a separate entity. This might also help AGOT as I imagine execs hate to think another network could make money with a type of show they turned down. I'm happy to watch both.

One last thing which is a pro/con is that AGOT is the only adaptation (i think?) meaning they have access to 4 seasons already. Not taking anything from the screenwriters, but i guess it's easier to translate than create material from scratch. The obvious con is the fact GRRM hasn't finished it yet. I think the release of ADWD will not only be good news for us, but the show itself.

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I've never seen John from Cincinatti, I was just commenting on the fact it was canned. I'm tempted to give it a go as i loved Deadwood, so if you can reccomend it I'll give it a shot. Then again I hate getting into a show only for it to be cancelled (at least we have the books for AGOT). Regardless, I still think Milch is a name that when attached to a show enhances the chance of it being made and wouldn't want to say who would win in a straight fight between his new show and AGOT.

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I thought John From Cincinatti was pretty good. Ed O'Niell made it funny.

I really don't think anyone needs to freak out about the "competition." GOTs biggest competitor was already defeated. And that was the Preacher Series. I am still surprised they let that one go. Preacher is far more in the fantasy genre than any of the pilots we're looking at. The only show that HBO is looking into that would compete in this area is Trent Reznors Year Zero project which HBO optioned not too long ago (Sorry, couldn't find a link but it's true). And that I'm not really worried about. I also think it's a good thing if True Blood keeps getting more popular, it shows these kind of genre shows can work.

My guess as to the biggest potential problem: Technical complexity and the need for a very good production crew. Remember, HBO has a reputation and image as a producer of quality TV, of which there is very little out there. Thats how they keep subscribers paying. We apparently have a great script based off great material. Now we need a great director (Great meaning competent), we need great production elements like sound, location, photography... oh and actors too. Thats whats going to be tested by the pilot. HBO has already signaled it wants to pay for this thing. But they don't want to pay for crap.

If I remember correctly, Rome was greenlit sometime in 2002, and first aired in 2005. /following the same time frame we're looking at 2011-2012. This will be a long process.

Also, HBO really cannot bitch about the cost of their shows. They supposedly have 38,000,000 subscribers worldwide (Including Cinemax) that pay $15 a month. If GOT costed $100mil per season, that would be approximately 01.5 percent of their revenue in a year. A drop in the bucket. Money is (Surprisingly) not the biggest issue. Its the people issue that's the real potential glitch. I actually find it interesting that the network is able to invest so very little into it's original programming and get such a huge return.

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It's a real shame about Preacher as the two shows could have made for a great "fantasy night" block of tv. It would have also been a lot cheaper to make than AGOT and easier to adapt. Don't know why it fell through but I suspect it may have been too controversial even for HBO to play with. I hear it might get made into a film by Sam Mendes now so there's still hope, plus a movie can make money off the hype/controversey but a cable channel could lose subscribers.

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[quote name='Commodore' post='1605593' date='Dec 2 2008, 00.31']I'm disappointed in the lack of proactiveness of our board members. We need to start thinking of ways to sabatoge these other pilots. Let's hear some ideas.[/quote]
Well, I do live around the corner from Steve Buscemi, but I'm a big fan of his so I likely won't be doing much to sabotage him or his show.

Heh, I am sensing the makings of a indie movie here - 3 crazy Ice & Fire fans get it in their head the only way to ensure that HBO picks up the series is to sabotage all of the other shows. So they set about all sorts of crazy schemes - kidnapping actors and directors, burning down sets, etc. all just to make sure that no other show has a chance to get made so HBO will simply HAVE to produce ASoIaF.

Of course the ironic twist at the end of the film [spoiler warning] is that because HBO has sunk so much money into all of these ruined pilots, they have no chance of recouping the money spent and file for Chapter 7 bankruptsy and go out of business.

[quote name='Venardhi' post='1605916' date='Dec 2 2008, 09.46']Stop ragging on John from Cincinnati, that show was brilliant.[/quote]
It was, though I didn't make my decision about liking the show or not until the BBQ episode - then I finally realized what they were going for. Milch might be the best dramatic writer of our time and it was JfC that convinced me of that. It's literature, IMO.

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I wanted to like JfC so much, I really did. But I thought it collapsed under its own weight. After 3 episdes I was loving it. By the end I felt like I was only getting more questions and no new answers. I thought Butchie was fantastic. I thought Ed O'Neil was great. I thought the dialogue, when at its best, was as good as anything you'll hear on TV and that's part of Milch's mystique. But...

Even though I want to have sex with her, badly, Becca Demorney's (sp) character was just weird. The whole thing with Stinkweed got weirder when it started off with potential. John got more obscure, not less. The child actor was the worst I've ever seen...literally. He made the kid that played Anakin in the Episode I look like Billy Elliot.

To be fair, I didn't do my homework on message boards and whatnot so my understanding of everything is based on just my one viewing. Maybe the show was about to take off had it received a 2nd season. But it didn't and it was a downer.

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[quote name='Brudewollen' post='1608560' date='Dec 4 2008, 07.18']Heh, I am sensing the makings of a indie movie here - 3 crazy Ice & Fire fans get it in their head the only way to ensure that HBO picks up the series is to sabotage all of the other shows. So they set about all sorts of crazy schemes - kidnapping actors and directors, burning down sets, etc. all just to make sure that no other show has a chance to get made so HBO will simply HAVE to produce ASoIaF.[/quote]
LOL, file the serial numbers off that one and it would actually be a great concept for an indie movie! I'd watch it :-)

If I were HBO, I would not make ASOIAF. It'd be a real pain to make.

1) High budget. Needs lots of location shooting and massed battles etc. Of course, this would make good TV, but it would be extremely expensive.

2) Adaption of a series not yet finished, by an author who works tremendously slowly. If it takes off, they could end up overtaking him!

3) HBO seem to like critical acclaim and critics hate fantasy.

4) The cast of thousands would make it really hard for the average viewer to follow. Plus, wouldn't it be a casting nightmare? There are so many vital characters, and it would be even more confusing to the viewer if they had to keep recasting when actors in important roles quit. For instance, Beric Dondarrion shows up near the start, then not for about 1000 pages. If the actor quits inbetween, where did all that foreshadowing go?

5) Never work with children or animals! :-)

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[quote]but it would be extremely expensive.[/quote]

Not necessarily, by HBO standards. "Massed battles" don't need thousands -- you can get by with a couple dozen guys + a dozen more doing digital compositing of said guys.

[quote]Adaption of a series not yet finished[/quote]

This is definitely not an issue with them, I think we can say. If it was, they wouldn't have spent money on the pilot to begin with.

[quote]HBO seem to like critical acclaim and critics hate fantasy.[/quote]

LotR had pretty good reviews, as I recall.. 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I think a gritty, adult fantasy with high-production values and a compelling story might be enought to have critics put aside anti-fantasy bias. If you look at Variety and such, the critics these days are generally more in-tune with genre shows anyways.

[quote]If the actor quits inbetween, where did all that foreshadowing go?[/quote]

Unimportant. Recasting is not an issue for this sort of situation. It's been done on many shows, many times. A really key actor leaving the show would be problematic, but recasting isn't going to be a killer if the show is good enough.

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Theres no question that the VFX are going to be expensive. But if you're hoping to see battles on the scale of Spartacus or LOTR, you're going to be disappointed. Most of the VFX is going to go towards immersing the viewer into the environment, not battles. And Boardwalk Empire is going to have to do the very same thing. Look at the movie "Changeling" to see the kind of environment immersion they're going to have to pull off. Look to Rome for what we might see in battles, and they mostly had very short matte painting type scenes that lasted 4 or 5 seconds. Jaime cutting down the Stark bannermen to get at Robb is an example of something I think we will see... But it's a scene that might only last 10-20 seconds in it's flashback context. We never see the battle for Riverrun, it's never really even described in the book in depth as I recall. We may get to see Tyrion go up against Rooses men, but even then, in the books, we see it from Tyrions POV and not some sort of grand epic view. The battles serve more of the purpose of progressing a character rather than as a complete focus of the storyline. At least in GOT anyways.

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You saw my thread on the effects. There's a U.K. guy who managed a LotR-like massive battle scenes with a dozen guys and his rendering server with a $1 million budget for a complete hour-long episode. Looked pretty good, too. Doubtless other people could do the same if they really thought about how to swing it.

Rome blew its budget on a lot of things that it probably shouldn't have. As noted by the director of the Pharsalus episode, it seemed to him that despite all this amazing stuff (like the huge set), the other directors on the show seemed to keep the cameras in really close and rarely gave a sense of the elaborate sets.

I think they can definitely outdo Rome in regards to the battle at the Green Fork, and it'd be cool (if economical) to do a significant series of shots from the Battle of the Trident in the pilot. After all, the pilot is going to be there to show HBO what the show can do, and if you can make it look like LotR on the TV screen with a reasonable budget, I think that's going to be a strong argument for going ahead with it. That said, certainly, working in a 20 second, digitally composited battle has to be done without making everything else look not up to snuff. Sets and costumes will have to have the quality that people expect.

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