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When it came time to adapt Robert Jordan's massive Wheel of Time series at Amazon, showrunner/executive producer Rafe Judkins turned to a pair of dudes who had plenty of experience in tackling a gargantuan fantasy epic for television: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Speaking with GQ for a lengthy feature piece chronicling The Wheel of Time's journey to the small screen, Judkins recalled the small piece of advice he received from the masterminds behind HBO's Game of Thrones.
"Just do what you're going to do," they reportedly told him. "You know what this is. You have to believe in it. These kinds of things have to have an extraordinary clarity of vision to work."
Of course, Benioff and Weiss had it a little easier, given that they helped kick off the fantasy boom everyone is now trying to capitalize on (whether it's The Witcher at Netflix or Amazon betting big on The Wheel of Time and a massive Lord of the Rings prequel series).
“It's not like we can go say, ‘Oh, you know, Game of Thrones, Season 1, they only spent this,’” Wheel of Time executive producer Mike Weber, told GQ. “The audience expectation is coming off of the last season of Game of Thrones, not the first season.”
The ultimate goal is to not only attract fans of the books and fantasy genre as a whole, but general audience members as well. “In some ways we have a harder job,” Judkins added. "To tell the audience that, like: 'This is a show for people beyond fantasy nerds.'”
Getting some guidance from the brain trust behind Thrones makes a lot of sense, especially considering the pedigree both projects share. The Wheel of Time is an equally huge and beloved fantasy book series, with arguably just as much reverence among fantasy fans. It of course took a perfect storm for HBO's Thrones adaptation to capture the zeitgeist, but perfect storm or not, it only worked because the show was good (and looked good). If Wheel of Time hopes to find that same lightning in a bottle, it needs to chart its own course — just as Weiss and Benioff recommended.
The Wheel of Times rolls onto Amazon Prime Video Friday, Nov. 19. A second season is already in production. "We're getting into more of a rhythm of how you make a huge feature film every two months,” Judkins concluded.