HBO will not leave Game of Thrones fans hanging: network programming president Casey Bloys told a roomful of TV critics at the Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour on Wednesday morning that the blockbuster series’s prequel, being created by Jane Goldman, will hopefully start shooting next year and air in 2020. As for the final season of Game of Thrones, Bloys won’t pin down an air date precisely—but says it will return the first half of 2019.
He also confirmed longtime rumors of a Deadwood movie, which despite logistical logjams will start production in October, and promised a new season of True Detective early next year, as well as the final season of Veep. What of Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen? Its status still hangs in the balance, said Bloys, since he won’t be seeing the pilot for another few weeks. But based on a “phenomenal script,” he sounds hopeful about its prospects.
Bloys also addressed controversy swirling around the future of the network under its new corporate owners. “I don’t want to change our culture in any way,” he insisted. “I don’t want it to feel like a factory.”
Earlier this month, John Stankey, the AT&T executive who now leads Warner Media, told HBO employees that the cable network needed to increase how much time viewers spend on HBO programs, and that the network could also stand to broaden its programming—provoking questions of whether HBO’s slow, careful development process would need to be sped up.
“There are no plans to dilute the HBO brand,” Bloys said. “No one has come to us and asked us not to do what we do.” In fact, he said there’s been an emphasis on increased investment, which might require bringing on more development staff.
It does feel like a transitional moment for HBO, with Game of Thrones finishing and Westworld concluding its second season with slipping ratings and some befuddled viewers. (The series is not intended “for casual viewers,” Bloys suggested.) But Bloys also pointed out that he has been through multiple cycles of HBO booms and busts: ”There’s no next Sopranos, there’s no next Game of Thrones. There’s great shows. . .If the development team is open and we’re supportive of writers/creators, we’ll be O.K.”