The end is nigh for Game of Thrones, but this is one finale that won’t be overstaying its welcome. Back in April of last year, as the show’s sixth season was wrapping up, creators/showrunners/writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed that as they were breaking the story for the show’s final two seasons, they were thinking they only had 13 episodes left total. There was some debate as to how these 13 episodes would be split up, but the fact remained that Benioff and Weiss were confident that there were only about 13 hours left in the Game of Thrones story, and thus weren’t interested in padding out the last two seasons.
Indeed, as filming on the show’s penultimate season is complete, Benioff and Weiss are now sitting down to finalize the final season of Game of Thrones, and they’re confirming it will be a very abbreviated season. Speaking at a SXSW panel over the weekend (via TV Line), Benioff and Weiss confirmed that Game of Thrones Season 8 will consist of only six episodes in total. That’s a sharp drop from the usual 10-episode seasons we’ve gotten used to thus far, but this year’s Season 7 will only consist of seven episodes, so it appears Benioff and Weiss are sticking to their guns of having just 13 episodes of story left to tell.
It’s unlikely that six episodes means six hours exactly, but it’s also unlikely that the final season will stretch on for too much longer. The Season 6 finale is the show’s longest episode yet, and that only clocked in at 69 minutes. While there has been talk at HBO of wanting to possibly finish the series with a feature film on the big screen, Benioff and Weiss have been dubious about concluding their eight-year story in a different medium entirely. They have showcased episodes in movie theaters before, so it’s possible the finale event will get a run on the big screen in addition to its regular HBO premiere, but I would be surprised if the show leapt to movie theaters entirely. This is a series that began on HBO and will likely end the same way.
But first we have Season 7 to look forward to, which debuts this July—just in time for the summer blockbuster season. Indeed, Game of Thrones has become an event series in every sense of the phrase, and while the delayed production schedule resulted in a delayed premiere this year, it’s oddly fitting that the series will be airing just as the big film studios are showcasing their $250 million wares at the cineplex.
I’ll be curious to see if Season 8 follows the same production pattern of Season 7, and thus doesn’t premiere until July 2018. While this upcoming season has less episodes than usual, it still was in production for the same amount of time it took them to make 10 episodes, so one can reasonably assume we’re in for an epic conclusion.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres on HBO on July 16th.