“Thrones” Spin-Offs To Get Big Budgets

While specifics of the potential “Game of Thrones” spin-offs remain vague, HBO heads revealed at the INTV conference in Israel Tuesday that the series won’t be lacking in budget.

Francesca Orsi, HBO senior vp of drama, reportedly said the network has budgeted the spin-offs near the level of the original series. Certainly they will come in above the budget ‘Thrones’ had in its first few seasons as Orsi says: “$50 million (per season) would never fly for what we are trying to do. We are going big.”

Orsi says the final season, currently in production ahead of airing next year, will not disappoint and a table read took place of the last few episodes with the show’s cast:

“[It] was a really powerful moment in our lives and our career. None of the cast had received the scripts prior, and one by one they started to fall down to their deaths. By the end, the last few words on the final script, the tears just started falling down. Then there was applause that lasted 15 minutes.”

The likes of Max Borenstein (“Kong: Skull Island”), Jane Goldman (“Kick-Ass”), Brian Helgeland (“Legend”) and Carly Wray (“The Leftovers”) have all been developing separate spin-off series based on the fantasy world created by writer George R.R. Martin. How many will go forward is presently undecided.

Orsi also touched upon the second season of “Big Little Lies,” rather dramatically saying that with the expansion from a limited series to an ongoing one, all the contract renegotiations and higher price tags means that: “From a budget stand point going into season two of Big Little Lies without any options in place we’ve been… um… short of raped.”

HBO Programming President Casey Bloys was also on hand and touched on competition with Netflix, saying that they were “in the volume business” whereas HBO was “in the curation business”. He added that the flood of Netflix series was “absolutely diluting” the quality of shows on offer.

Orsi also had choice words for Amazon, saying they were effectively cheap owing to the way they treated cast members of the “Picnic At Hanging Rock” event series they acquired: “A couple of the prestige pieces that have come through our door are passionately saying they want to set it up at HBO because at Amazon they don’t get some of the benefits in marketing or, on Picnic At Hanging Rock, they can’t travel the cast to the premiere… Amazon is not paying for the travel, which is somewhat of a disgrace and they need to know that and others don’t want to get lost in Netflix.”

Bloys also revealed that he has handed out a greenlight for the pilot “Euphoria,” a teen drama based on an Israeli format with “Wizard of Lies ” scribe Sam Levinson penning it. The story follows a group of high school students as they attempt to cope through drugs, sex and violence in an effort to make sense of an uncertain future.

Sources: THR & Deadline