One of the most interesting and consequential fronts of the Great Entertainment Semi-Finals is the Battle for the Next Game of Thrones. It’s an isolated sector of the conflict but a breakthrough here could make a service or network, just as a breakdown here could destroy one.
When you talk about the battle for Big IP, they don’t get bigger—or scarcer—than this. The ANKLER CAN EXCLUSIVELY REPORT that a big piece of real estate is on the brink of changing hands, with consequences potentially both far-reaching and earth-shattering. The giant piece of GoT’esque IP that Showtime/CBS/Viacom has been sitting on for years now may be about to make a jailbreak to join this week’s hot cookie in the battledrome, Apple, and potentially become their flagship series.
A little context: Ten years ago, the fantasy genre on TV was less of a player than the virtual fireplace genre, or the What’s It Really Like to Work in the Accounts Payable Department of a Midsize Insurance Company genre. Then came GoT, and everyone was in the game. In these days when you’ve got all the contenders jostling for any advantage they can get, the potential for a GoT-sized hit just to cut through everything and catapult a service to must-have status is not to be understated. One can think about what HBO would look like now if it hadn’t had GoT—or any of the other contenders if they did.
On the other hand, some of these humongous bets are going to fail miserably, and that also is going to be something to watch.
No less than Lord Bezos himself has been quoted that the goal of his service is to stop fussing around with these whimsical pieces of Silver Lake-bait and to create the next GoT, hence spending a thousand trillion dollars on the Lord of the Rings rights.
But as I say, there are only so many of these iconic nerd properties to go around. Disney has the Star Wars galaxy to build on. (Is the galaxy part of a Star Wars Universe? Or is a galaxy just a galaxy?) The Telephoneys and HBO TO THE MAX of course have GoT itself and are off and running with a prequel. (Netflix, which doesn’t believe that there’s much point or interest in a show after two seasons, is taking a different tack.)
Over in Redstone-land, in the hands of Showtime, there's a huge, nerd-beloved series of 20,000 page novels called The Kingkiller Chronicles.
The series is owned by Lionsgate, which hired no less than Lin Manuel Miranda as the “creative producer and musical mastermind” of the series and optioned it to Showtime way back in 2017, when we were all young and starry-eyed.
For the past two years, Lionsgate and Showtime have been developing the project, no doubt swallowing hard at what would easily be a nine-figure production cost per season. Until the last couple months when, as you may have heard, the CBS and Viacom families re-merged. On top of that, I’ve heard word that the pricetag is climbing by the hour on Showtime’s Sci-Fi epic Halo. With the result on the Showtime side that the cash flow just isn’t on hand to start shooting this pronto.
Well, hearing this after years of waiting patiently, Lionsgate was in no mood to sit tight and see how this plays out. The company, with a relatively thin pipeline as a result of its transitional time, needs to get some product and cash flow into the system, pronto.
Lucky for them, it’s a very good time to hit the market with a giant piece of Fantasy IP. They are said to be just in the very early days of shopping this around, but a little company called Apple is seen by some as an extremely likely bidder given the book, showrunner and the involvement of an Apple level Titan Class Creative Giant in Lin Manuel Miranda.
If CBS were to lose this—say to Apple’s gain—it would be a pretty huge bit of fallout, another swath of collateral damage from the years of corporate instability rendered by the many dramas there. In normal times, you could always live to screw up another day, but with the Semi-Finals looming, that might not be the case for very much longer.
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The show has been in development for awhile with little news of casting, premise, or release date, so this is excellent news if it means things are going to get moving again.