Author George R. R. Martin tried desperately to talk HBO out of making a TV show out of his epic “Game of Thrones” books — for fear that a flop would kill his popular series, according to a new book.
In the preface to a new book, Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones, Martin recalls telling the shows future producers, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff that ‘[i]t’s too big. It’s too complicated. It’s too expensive,’ and that ‘Hollywood Boulevard is lined with the skulls and bleached bones.’
Hollywood Boulevard is lined with the skulls and bleached bones.
According to the New York Post ‘[h]is biggest fear about a TV version of his first book was that a failure would cause fans to question their dedication to the series — and kill the community of readers that had grown around A Song of Ice and Fire,’ Having spent many years in Hollywood as a writer for Beauty and the Beast and The Twilight Zone, Martin has long been connected to the Hollywood scene and has seen the dismal fate that most adaptations meet. At the time, A Song of Ice and Fire had built a strong following among Fantasy fans, but a mainstream audience was still just a twinkle in Martin’s eye. Despite this, momentum was on Martin’s side and the risk of alienating his current audience was a real consideration. One producer even went so far as to pitch Martin on a film adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, suggesting that the entire seven volume series, including the unwritten books (presumably three or four, at that time) be condensed into a single film. This from the same industry that is stretching The Hobbit, which is the 1/3 the length of a single volume in A Song of Ice and Fire, into three films. Worrying.
Despite these reservations, Martin obviously acquieseced to the arguments (or cheque writing capabilities) of Benioff and Weiss, or we wouldn’t now be enjoying the show on HBO. The list of writers who would actively work against their literature being adapted to film is small, and mostly littered with the ultra successful, for Hollywood cheques aren’t insubstantial, but it’s interesting to see Martin working so hard to protect his product. His reasoning is valid, in a sense, especially when you look at similar adaptations, like Terry Goodkind’s Legend of the Seeker, which Goodkind has publicly admitted was a mistake and failure, though I’d be curious to see how Legend of the Seeker affected Goodkind’s overall brand, if at all. Lucky for us, Weiss, Benioff and HBO were able to convince Martin that they were able to do justice to his series and, even more lucky, they’ve actually managed to live up to those promises.