‘House of the Dragon’: A Co-Showrunner Departs the Show (Without Bloodshed)

Succession is apparently just as important behind-the-scenes at House of the Dragon.  Miguel Sapochnik, co-showrunner of the Game of Thrones spinoff, is leaving the HBO drama less than two weeks after its record-breaking premiere.  

The filmmaker, who directed the premiere episode of House of the Dragon, will remain an executive producer on the show as he transitions into a first-look deal with HBO to develop new projects, the network confirmed to Vanity Fair on Wednesday. Ryan Condal, who served as co-showrunner on the first season alongside Sapochnik, will lead the series as its sole showrunner in collaboration with series co-creator and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin.

To fill Sapochnik’s shoes as a director, HBO has hired another Game of Thrones veteran, Alan Taylor, who will serve as an executive producer and director for several episodes of House of the Dragon’s second season. Like Sapochnik, who directed a number of episodes of the original series, Taylor was a regular in Westeros during the show’s eight-season run.

“It was incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally,” Sapochnik said in a statement. “As I do so, though, I am deeply comforted to know that Alan will be joining the series. He’s someone I’ve known and respected for a long time, and I believe this precious series could not be in safer hands.”

House of the Dragon debuted in late August, more than three years after Game of Thrones went off the air. The return to Westeros proved a major draw—the show had the largest premiere in HBO history with 10 million cross-platform viewers, earning it a quick second season renewal. HBO said Monday that the premiere episode was approaching 25 million viewers in the US a week after its debut.

Sapochnik was reluctant to join Condal as co-showrunner of House of the Dragon despite his work developing the project for HBO, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported news of his departure from the show. But he eventually relented, also agreeing to direct three of the first season’s 10 episodes.

“Miguel Sapochnik has done amazing work on the first season of House of the Dragon, establishing its signature look and feel,” an HBO representative said in a statement. “This series simply could not have come together the way it did without him. While we would have loved to have Miguel continue in the same role, we are thrilled to have his ongoing collaboration in this new creative capacity. Looking forward, we’ve had a decades-long relationship with Alan Taylor, and we are delighted to have him join Ryan and rest the talented team.”

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