When HBO decided to make a series adaptation of the 1973 Michael Crichton film Westworld, they followed the wise words of another Crichton creation/theme park enthusiast John Hammond: They spared no expense.
It’s no coincidence the the show’s long-awaited premiere (which is earning excellent notices from critics) comes after Game of Thrones finally put in place its exit strategy. Like many groundbreaking television series (The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men etc.), HBO announced its juggernaut fantasy drama would end after two shortened seasons, giving them (what turned out to be very necessary) breathing room to produce this expensive Western/sci-fi mashup.
HBO is in a precarious place. Several projects have run into production or money trouble recently amidst a change in management. Besides Thrones and now Westworld, HBO is coming the $100 million failure of its 1970s music drama Vinyl and only has two other dramas: True Detective and The Leftovers. The former, so insurgent in its first season, died on the vine with its second and, over a year later, a third has still not been announced. The latter, an intense meditation on grief, had two critically acclaimed seasons that were so low-rated the show is ending with its third, to air this fall.
Perhaps the biggest reason Westworld is HBO’s Next Big Thing is because the network needs it to be; nothing gets things done like tunnel vision. To that end, the show matched the material with high-minded and popular writers/producers, a cast of movie stars and beloved actors, an elaborate genre conceit befitting its budget, large and heady themes and televised cinematic storytelling on a scale rarely attempted.
In short, it did everything to flop-proof this show, with Thrones as its guide . Here are 5 ways HBO is following the Thrones model for success (Fun fact: they even share the same composer, Ramin Djawadi!)