At San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), held July 21-24, HBO Max gave attendees an impressive, exciting activation called “House of the Dragon: The Dragon’s Den.” Accompanied by a Hall H panel with the cast of one of the most anticipated series of the season. The activation included live actors and a new, exciting app with your own dragon! The panel featured the main cast of House of the Dragon as well as arguably one of the greatest living fantasy writers: George R. R. Martin.
The activation allowed each attendee to step from our world into the sights and sounds of King’s Landing. Attendees interacted with actors who portrayed the people of the city. Once inside The Keep, fans selected their own dragon egg, and finally, they had to demonstrate that they were worthy of a bond with a dragon.
From the caverns of Dragonstone to the magnificent Red Keep, attendees were ushered by a designated Dragonkeeper through several phases. The activation created the atmosphere of a keep (a dark cave) by using cooling fans and smoke. When attendees arrived in the throne room, there was a live quartet playing medieval music. It was here that the guests were allowed to mount the infamous Iron Throne (Targaryen version) and have their picture taken while upon it!
After pictures were taken on the throne, guests were allowed to leave with their personalized, virtual dragon egg in a new augmented reality app, House of the Dragon: DracARys. Now the guests, as true Targaryens, were expected to “raise” their dragon at home. This was my favorite activation at SDCC!
The saga of House of the Dragon is based on George R. R. Martin’s Fire & Blood and is set more than 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It tells the story of House Targaryen, as they took over rulership of Westeros and its seven kingdoms. The trailer gave the audience a glimpse into the world as the age-old question of succession primed the pump for the intrigue that will fuel the conflicts during the season.
The intricacies of the story, as different factions war for control, promises to keep fans watching with anticipation for many weeks. Plus, there will be dragons! The trailer only gave attendees a hint of things to come but the cast, showrunners, and Martin gave attendees more to anticipate from the series. The production values in the series appear to be incredible, while the acting and directing seem to be top notch.
Unfortunately, co-showrunner/executive producer/director Miguel Sapochnik could not attend due to Covid but he sent a heartfelt message with his regrets that was read by Emma D’Arcy. However, co-showrunner/executive producer/director Ryan Condal was more than equal to the task of describing the behind the scenes work necessary to make the series a reality.
House of the Dragon has a large and impressive cast, which HBO introduced to the SDCC audience: Paddy Considine (King Viserys Targaryen), Matt Smith (Prince Daemon Targaryen), Olivia Cooke (Alicent Hightower), Emma D’Arcy (Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen), Steve Toussaint (Lord Corlys Velaryon), Eve Best (Princess Rhaenys Targaryen), Fabien Frankel (Ser Criston Cole), Graham McTavish (Ser Harrold Westerling), Milly Alcock (Young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen), and Emily Carey (Young Alicent Hightower). The panel was moderated by Jason Concepcion (Crooked podcast host). Along with this galaxy of stars, HBO gifted the audience with an exclusive new trailer for the series!
The panel opened with Ryan Condal giving a brief summary of what to expect during the season with blood, intrigue, conflict, and of course dragons! Jason Concepcion then went on to ask the actors about their characters and their characters interaction with other characters in this world. However, one of the most interesting aspects of the series that was discussed had to do with the dragons.
Ryan Condal explained that he and Sapochnik had taken special care in designing the dragons such that each of the 17 creatures had their own personalities and look. Since the book stated that the Targaryens were drawn to dragons of similar personalities, they made sure that the dragons mirrored the personalities of their riders. The cast did mention their favorite dragons before discussing their characters in more detail and answering fan questions. In a response to a question from the audience, Martin reminded the audience that his works use history as a reference point. Therefore, women did not have the freedoms and rights that men did in medieval times.
The activation was a thrilling romp into the world of Westeros where fans had the thrill of being in that world while also having the chance to sit on the Iron Throne. The activation and the panel only stoked the anticipation of the fans for the new series.
The series debuts August 21, 2022 on HBO and HBO Max. I cannot wait!