EXCLUSIVE: The upcoming second season of HBO’s House of the Dragon will consist of eight episodes, two fewer than Season 1 of the Critics Choice Award-winning Game of Thrones prequel. It is part of a long-term plan for the show, which includes HBO mulling a green light for a third season, I have learned.
The news comes as production is about to begin on Season 2 in the UK for a likely summer 2024 premiere.
In what is a relatively common practice, HBO did not reveal the episode order in the Season 2 renewal announcement last summer. I hear the initial plan was for another 10-episode arc, which eventually changed, leading to some script rewrites. Given the leadership change at HBO’s parent company, some pointed at Warner Bros. Discovery leadership’s focus on cost-cutting. An HBO spokesperson, who confirmed to Deadline that Season 2 will contain 8 episodes, stressed that the episode count trim was story-driven.
It has been reported that House of the Dragon’s creative team had envisioned the series running for three or four seasons. I hear executive producer-showrunner Ryan Condal, working with author/executive producer George R.R. Martin, took a step back as Season 2 was being put together to take a big-picture view of the series, which follows Martin’s Fire & Blood, and figure out the overall narrative flow, including how to break up the stories season-to-season and what battles to include and when.
As part of that, I hear Season 3 has been mapped out and might be greenlighted, with HBO seriously considering committing to moving ahead with scripts, casting and a production plan as the network too is trying to think long-term instead of season-to-season.
With a portion of the plot originally intended for Season 2, including a major battle, moving to Season 3, I hear it is now more likely that the series would run for four seasons, but that has not been determined as Condal and Martin continue to go back-and-forth on the number of seasons (three or four) that would be optimal to tell the full story, sources said.
In an October blog post, Martin spoke of the fact that HBO series like The Sopranos used to get 13 episodes a season, which had changed to 10 by the time Game of Thrones came along. The Emmy-winning fantasy juggernaut produced six 10-episode seasons, leading into the final 13-episode chapter that was split into two. This is more than the eight-episode seasons of Amazon’s LOTR: The Rings of Power, he noted.
“I am thrilled that we still have 10 hours every season to tell our tale,” Martin said about House of the Dragon. “I hope that will continue to be true. It is going to take four full seasons of 10 episodes each to do justice to the Dance of the Dragons, from start to finish.”
House of the Dragon is set 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of House Targaryen.
Warner Bros. Discovery’s new regime embraced the series last summer, supporting the $200M production with the biggest marketing campaign in HBO’s history, which reached 130M people in the U.S. by company estimates.
It led to a big ratings splash for the series’ August 21 premiere, which was followed by a Season 2 renewal a few days later.
House of the Dragon stars Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Sonoya Mizuno and Rhys Ifans.
Condal and Martin executive produce with Sara Hess, Vince Gerardis, Season 2 director Alan Taylor and Season 1 director/co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik.