Everything in Hollywood can be quantified. In fact, the success or failure of a franchise hinges on either audience numbers or box office takings exceeding certain thresholds. Just look at Dredd (2012). The sci-fi thriller earned high praise from critics and fans but failed to break even on its production budget, meaning that a potential sequel was canned before the movie had even exhausted its runtime.
Game of Thrones
George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (GoT) saga had a much easier ride to mainstream success, despite the best efforts of showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss to set the final season ablaze in the worst way possible. The eight-year spectacle earned around US$2.2bn (US$285m per season) for the HBO network, making it one of the most successful media empires in recent TV history.
GoT is survived by a prequel, the recently-aired House of the Dragon, another epic that has inherited many of the tropes and memes of its predecessor. The ExpressVPN website placed all these quirks into a bingo card prior to House of the Dragon’s debut, instructing viewers to drink whenever a character dies by fire (or poisoning, beheading, magic, etc.) or when family members kiss, among other things.
Anybody who survived that game would have been treated to another massive success for the franchise, as House of the Dragon debuted with 9.9m viewers. Compare that to the 2.2m of the GoT pilot, which was once considered the biggest opening of all time on HBO. House of the Dragon’s premiere was less popular than GoT’s finale, though, which attracted 19.3m sets of eyeballs.
Lord Corlys Velaryon
As far as ratings are concerned, House of the Dragon currently holds an 8.6/10 rating overall on IMDb, with no individual episode falling below 8.1 (The Princess and The Queen). The episodes entitled Driftmark and The Lord of the Tides earned the dragon’s share of plaudits, posting IMDb scores of 9.2 and 9.4, respectively. Unfortunately, an 8.6 overall rating means that it’s the weakest season so far in the GoT canon, only ahead of season 8 (6.33).
This good-but-not-good showing is unlikely to affect the franchise in any significant way but it does raise the question of where the extra 10m people who viewed the GoT finale have disappeared to. Of course, Game of Thrones had a lot of star power to rely on by the end of its run, including Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Kit Harington, and Rory McCann. In comparison, House of the Dragon feels a little empty.
After losing its showrunner after the first episode, House of the Dragon does seem to have an interesting future ahead. The series has already been renewed for a second season following the success of the first but it may have to compete with a raft of other GoT spin-offs that HBO
has planned, including ones based around the popular Jon Snow and Lord Corlys Velaryon characters.
Whether this will water down the franchise to nothing, similar to what Disney has done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars, is anybody’s guess.