HBO Will Spare No Expense For The 'Game Of Thrones' Spin-Off Shows; Exec Teases Character Deaths In Season 8

Each episode of the upcoming eighth and final season of HBO's smash hit fantasy series Game of Thrones reportedly cost $15 million, making it the most expensive prestige drama of all time. But what will the network do after the show ends? We already knew they had a bunch of potential Game of Thrones spin-off shows in development, so will they be tightening the purse strings for those shows when they first launch? Not a chance.

Oh, and an HBO exec has teased that all of your favorite characters may die in Game of Thrones season 8. As if you weren't already preparing for that eventuality.

Game of Thrones Spin-Offs Will Be Expensive From the Start

At the INTV conference in Israel this week, HBO's senior VP of drama Francesa Orsi said that the network will be giving the planned Game of Thrones spin-offs a substantial budget right out of the gate. "$50 million (per season) would never fly for what we are trying to do. We are going big," she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

By comparison, Game of Thrones' six-episode final season will cost $90 million. Its 10-episode first season cost between $50-$60 million (with a costly pilot that reportedly cost around $10 million by itself), and the average cost of an episode in season 1 was around $6 million.

It's still unclear what stories the spin-offs might tell – though we have some guessesMax Borenstein (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island), Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass and Kingsman), Brian Helgeland (L.A Confidential, A Knight's Tale), Carly Wray (Mad Man), and Bryan Cogman have been tapped to develop the prequels/spin-offs (the network prefers to refer to them as "successor shows"), and they're all working individually with A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin. HBO has not committed to all five shows, instead adopting a "wait and see" approach until the scripts are completed before they decide to start handing out greenlights.

Your Favorite Characters Might Die in Season 8

During a panel discussion at the conference, Francesca Orsi also recounted what it was like during the table reads for the show's final episodes:

"[That] was a really powerful moment in our lives and our careers. None of the cast had received the scripts prior, and one by one they started to fall down to their deaths. By the end, the last few words on the final script, the tears just started falling down. Then there was applause that lasted 15 minutes."

Game of Thrones has been killing off characters with increasing regularity as it barrels toward its conclusion, so it's not remotely surprising to hear it'll keep up that pace in the final season. But which characters will actually be bumped off? The most surprising thing the show could do would be to kill off Daenerys and/or Jon Snow, characters the audience essentially thinks are untouchable by now. That would provide a wonderful symmetry with the first season of the show, which shockingly killed off the noble and honorable Ned Stark (Sean Bean), a character clearly set up to be the narrative's main protagonist. Is the show brave enough to make a choice like that, with audience expectations soaring higher than Drogon on a clear day? We'll see when Game of Thrones returns sometime in 2019.