It’s the end of an era.
Game of Thrones used the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland as its home base for all eight seasons of its run on HBO, and the expectation was that any prequel or spin-off shows would continue to shoot there. (Another prequel did film there, but that show wasn’t picked up.) But now Westeros will be created in another country altogether: according to a new report, the upcoming prequel series House of the Dragon will shift its home base away from Northern Ireland over to England, just northwest of London.
Game of Thrones fan site Winter is Coming relays the news that the House of the Dragon filming locations will primarily be in Leavesden Studios in Watford, England. The facility has hosted productions like GoldenEye, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, every Harry Potter film, The Dark Knight, Inception, Edge of Tomorrow, Paddington, Wonder Woman 1984, and F9, just to name a few. It’s currently home to Matt Reeves’ The Batman. I visited the studio while Spider-Man: Far From Home was shooting there, and it is absolutely massive: the huge water tank, several sound stages, and its gigantic backlot area barely scratch the surface of everything it has to offer.
The studio is owned by Warner Bros., which is in the same corporate family as HBO, so the thinking may have been to keep House of the Dragon under a familiar roof. (It also could be a way for execs to keep a closer eye on this production and a tighter hand on the reins, with this base being just outside of London.)
Of course, this is a massive blow to the people of Northern Ireland. When I visited the original Winterfell a couple of years ago, it was clear that Game of Thrones was a major source of pride for the people there and the tourism from its global fanbase was pumping tons of money into its economy. (Whether or not the show’s divisive ending will stem the flow of visitors remains to be seen.)
Rumor has it that House of the Dragon will ramp up in January 2021 and land on HBO sometime in 2022. The show, which takes place 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, has already cast Paddy Considine to play King Viserys Targaryen. It’s set largely at Dragonstone, which was created in Game of Thrones using a combination of locations in Northern Ireland and Spain, so it’ll be interesting to compare and contrast once we get our first look at the new (well, chronologically older) version.