The Asian screening of the HBO original production Game of Thrones is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated series ever assembled by the giant cable channel.
Text by Bong Godinez
HBO's credentials as producer of highly successful programs has been impressive, as proven by the accomplishments of The Sopranos, The Wire, Entourage, Six Feet Under, Carnivale, Boardwalk Empire, The Pacific, and Sex and the City, among others.
Yet, Game of Thrones--an adaptation of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy novel, which is part of the book series collectively titled as A Song of Ice and Fire--has been regarded as the "biggest" and "most ambitious" project of the network.
While Boardwalk Empire, Carnivale, and The Pacific reflected different periods in American history--namely, the Prohibition era (1920-1933), the Great Depression (1929-1940), and the Pacific War (1941-1945), respectively--Game of Thrones (although entirely fictional) was set during the Medieval era or what others call the Dark Ages.
Executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are big fans of the book series. Both were enthralled by the elements applied by Martin in concocting the overall story, and felt interested to come up with a screen version.
"[It's] a story that's so rich and has so many characters, different viewpoints and narratives all woven together with incredible expertise. I think you admire it even more as a writer because you know how hard it is to do, and George R.R. Martin is a master at storytelling," remarked Benioff in a statement furnished to local press.
GRAND AND EPIC. Game of Thrones follows the vicious struggles for power among the different families scattered in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
Although unique and formed by their diverse backgrounds, each family--Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, Targaryen, Tully, Greyjoy, and Arryn--is driven by their lust for power regardless of the cost.
The enormity of the project took the cast and production team to Belfast, various locations in Northern Ireland, and Malta.
Benioff and Weiss's desire to remain loyal to the original book version made them wary that a big screen production may not do justice to the story since running time restrictions would only force them to left out minor to major details.
"It was such an intricate tapestry that we couldn't imagine mutilating it to make into a feature script, which would involve cutting 90% of his [Martin] characters and stories," explained Benioff.
"The only way that we could see doing it was as a series, and really, the only place we could see doing it properly was HBO.
"Fantasy is one of the most successful genres in the history of storytelling, but no one's ever done it the HBO way, where the focus is on character and psychology rather than spectacle. Knowing the essential shape of the entire series from the beginning is an incredible luxury for us, as adapters of the material."
The result is a ten-episode series divided and bannered by these titles: "Winter is Coming," The Kingsroad," "Lord Snow," "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things," "The Wolf and the Lion," "A Golden Crown," "You Win or You Die," "The Pointy End," "Baelor," and the finale, "Fire and Blood."
Directors tapped to oversee the episodes were Tim Van Patten, Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, and Alan Taylor.
Cast members include Joseph Mawle, Sean Bean, Michelle Fairley, Richard Madden, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Art Parkinson, Kit Harington, Alfie Allen, Donald Sumpter, Gethin Anthony, Mark Addy, Lena Headey, Jack Gleeson, Aimee Richardson, Callum Wharry, Julian Glover, Conleth Hill, Aidan Gillen, Rory McCann, Charles Dance, Nikolai Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Harry Lloyd, Emilia Clarke, Iain Glen, Kate Dickie, and Lino Facioli.
STRONG FOLLOWING. The upcoming HBO series benefits from the popularity of the novels first published in 1996.
Martin's fantasy novel series has gained a growing following over the years and that includes Asia, particularly here in the Philippines.
A press conference and special screening was held last July 26 at the Baluarte de San Diego in Intramuros, Manila.
It was noticeable that most of the invited press members were fans of Game of Thrones. Many were in fact familiar with the characters, and that included even the smallest details, as proven during the fun quiz game competition conducted after the screening.
HBO is confident that Game of Thrones will be equally as successful here in the Asian region as it did when it was shown in the United States.
Catch the Asian premiere of Game of Thrones on August 28 (Sunday) at 10:00 p.m. on HBO / HBO HD.
The series will be aired over five Sundays on HBO / HBO HD, with two new episodes back-to-back weekly at 10:00 p.m.