Game of Thrones is known for its big-budget production style. Though it relies on CGI for major battles and fantasy creatures, whenever it can, it sets the show in the real world. This means lots of on-location filming, including Croatia, Spain, Northern Ireland, and Iceland. Some outdoor locations, like King’s Landing, have always been filmed in real European cities since the show began. So it was surprising to learn for the final season they were building a faux King’s Landing on the sound stage at Titanic studios. New Game Of Thrones Season 8 spoilers have revealed why it might have been necessary to do so.
Since the set was identified as King’s Landing by fans who make it their business to watch for filming spoilers, there has been a great debate why the show might need a second, fabricated version of the King’s Landing streets. The show has already been spotted in Croatia’s Old City of Dubrovnik, filming on location shots in and around the Red Keep with major stars of the show. (Dubrovnik has made an appearance as King’s Landing every year since Season 2.)
If they’re still spending major money to fly to another country to film, then what is this Ireland-based set for? Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 follow.
One of the first major rumors to be floated came around December of last year. Fans had heard the reason they were building a false King’s Landing was in order to destroy it. Specifically: top burn it to the ground. The show has “blown up” part of the city before. (RIP The Sept of Baelor, and the tony neighbor of SeBa which surrounded it.) But they didn’t build a false King’s Landing to do it. It was blown up by Wildfire, which is 100% CGI based.
But when it comes to dragon fire, the show has made a point of always using real pyrotechnics, since the dragons are digitally created. The real fire helps the illusion along. If King’s Landing was destroyed in dragon fight with Dany and Jon on one side and the Night King on the other, using real fire, and needing a real set to burn, would make sense. Dubrovnik’s historical board probably wouldn’t approve of them burning down their city.
But as the replica becomes more detailed, fans are discovering fire might not be the only thing destroying King’s Landing. Pictures posted to Facebook by someone who went quite close by the set build show new details of the city’s destruction.
The most important photo is the one showing a huge hole blown in the outer walls of King’s Landing. This breach of the cities defenses looks like a big one too. I’m pretty sure it’s the kind of thing Dubrovnik wouldn’t want to be put in their famed walls for the production either, any more than they’d allow anything to burn down with pyrotechnics.
How did the hole get there? It’s not like the Army of the Dead are pushing siege engines or catapults down from the North with them. It’s not their style of warfare. They’re more of the “Zombie Masses Scaling Walls & Murdering Everything In Their Path” school of offense.
On the other hand, fans know the Night King recently picked up a very powerful weapon, which blows large holes in the walls: Viserion the Ice Dragon.
Does this mean the last battle, the big major showdown between the living and the dead, is happening in King’s Landing? We won’t know for months yet. Game of Thrones will eventually return to HBO in 2019, whenever it decides to feel like it.