With the streaming wars in full force, major outlets are looking to sign showrunners to massive deals. This ensures they have a steady stream (pun intended) of new content from the biggest names in show business. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are the latest recruits, winning a nine-figure deal from Netflix, according to Deadline. The trade didn’t get specific figures. But their sources tell them that it was likely somewhere in the range of Shonda Rimes’s $150 million and Ryan Murphy’s $300 million deal with the streamer. THR reports that the deal amounted to $200 million, overall. The Game of Thrones showrunners will leave HBO and create content for Netflix for the multiyear contract.
In a statement, Netflix said:
“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.”
The Game of Thrones showrunners offered up their own 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 Cindy Holland and Peter Friedlander, as well as Ted Sarandos and Scott Stuber. 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 honored they invited us to join them.”
Are The Game of Thrones Showrunners Really Worth This Investment?
Feelings about the final season of the show aside, it was a cultural sensation. But we call Benioff and Weiss the Game of Thrones showrunners because that’s really all they’ve done. They tried to develop a new series at HBO. The idea centered on an alternate universe where the Confederacy won the Civil War. After universal derision, the show halted development. Since then, it seemed like Weiss and Benioff just wanted to be done. It felt like they were over both Game of Thrones and HBO. (Though HBO reportedly is still working on that show, which appears to be a carbon copy of the plot to Ben Winters’s 2016 novel Underground Airlines.)
Still, with so few original ideas of theirs that came to fruition, one has to question the wisdom of Netflix dumping money on the Game of Thrones showrunners. Their next big project is a purported trilogy of Star Wars films, the first of which is slated to arrive in 2022. If that film is a success, and Star Wars fans are harsh and fickle creatures, it will mean their two most successful projects will be adaptations. The value of signing these creators is that they bring their ideas for original content, that Netflix will then own, to the platform. Despite their awards recognition for Game of Thrones, D&D haven’t really proven themselves in terms of realizing original story ideas. It’s a big gamble for Netflix, and one that may not pay off.
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.