Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

'Game of Thrones' showrunners headed to Netflix

David Benioff and Dan Weiss have signed an exclusive long-term deal with the streamer

David Benioff, left, and Dan Weiss have signed a long-term deal with Netflix. AP File
David Benioff, left, and Dan Weiss have signed a long-term deal with Netflix. AP File

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff & Dan Weiss have signed an exclusive, long-term deal with Netflix.

The deal sees Netflix prising the pair away from their decade-long association with HBO, where they have produced all eight seasons of Game of Thrones. In the process, the move cements, if it were needed, the streamer place at the very top table of TV production.

In fact, fellow streamer Amazon can reasonably join them at that table too. While numerous studios and broadcasters, including HBO, have been courting the pair for their services since their Game of Thrones contract ended, by the final round of negotiations only Netflix, Amazon and Disney were left in the running.

Emilia Clarke in 'Game of Thrones'. Courtesy OSN 
David Benioff and Dan Weiss created hit series 'Game of Thrones'. Courtesy OSN

Netflix hasn’t released details on the deal, but given that the pair have just completed probably the most successful TV series in history, and similar recent deals between Netflix and showrunners like Grey’s Anatomy’s Shonda Rhimes and Glee’s Ryan Murphy have been in the $100 million (Dh367m) range, that seems like a likely starting point.

Netflix's payment structure has been causing some controversy among industry figures of late. Like with actors and directors, the up front payments they've been making to producers and showrunners dwarf those usually made by traditional broadcasters and studios, who give a smaller advance and a share of profits. Netflix, which isn't reliant on box office, viewing figures or advertising income, instead offers huge one-off upfront payments, making them tough competition when it comes to bidding wars, but also leaving them open to paying huge sums for a dud.

Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos commented: “We are thrilled to welcome master storytellers David Benioff and Dan Weiss to Netflix. They are a creative force and have delighted audiences worldwide with their epic storytelling. We can’t wait to see what their imaginations will bring to our members.”

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2017 file photo, Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos arrives at the season one premiere of "Santa Clarita Diet" in Los Angeles. Sarandos says the streaming service is pulling its films from the Cannes Film Festival. Cannes earlier banned any films without theatrical distribution in France from its prestigious Palme d’Or competition. That essentially rules out Netflix movies. Netflix films could still play out of competition at Cannes. But in an interview published Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Sarandos said he wants Netflix releases “to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker.” (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos at the February 2017 premiere of 'Santa Clarita Diet' in Los Angeles. AP

Benioff and Weiss added in a statement: “We’ve had a beautiful run with HBO for more than a decade and we’re grateful to everyone there for always making us feel at home. Over the past few months we’ve spent many hours talking to Ted Sarandos. We remember the same shots from the same ‘80s movies; we love the same books; we’re excited about the same storytelling possibilities. Netflix has built something astounding and unprecedented, and we’re honoured they invited us to join them.”

Understandably, with the ink barely dry on the contract, there’s no hint yet of what we might expect to see first from the pair, though it’s a safe bet it won’t be their planned alternative history Confederate.

The story, in which the South had won the US civil war, attracted criticism when it was mooted at HBO over the idea of two white men making a show with a slavery narrative. The Netflix deal seems to leave that idea free to slowly be forgotten at HBO.

The pair will still carry out a number of projects they had already signed up to since Game of Thrones ended, including creating, writing and producing one of the next Star Wars trilogies and adapting the prison break tale Dirty White Boys for Fox/Disney.

Updated: August 8, 2019 05:12 PM

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