The Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones arrives on HBO in a little more than six weeks. On a cosmic scale, that’s a blip. But if you’re a fan of the epic fantasy series, there’s a good chance you’re in agony. Those six weeks might feel like forever on their own but they’re not even the full story, as they represent the last leg of more than a year’s wait between the end of the last season and the start of this one (the only time that’s happened in the show’s history). If we can just make it those six weeks, Season 7 is finally at our door.
Season 8, however, is another story.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, HBO president of programming Casey Bloys presented a kind of “State of the Franchise” for Thrones, clarifying the status of those developing spinoff shows as well as the eighth and final run of episodes for the original series.
Just as creator George R.R. Martin said last month, Bloys stressed that the spinoff series are all prequels in the very early stages of development. These series are apparently not even to the point that HBO has seen story outlines. While that means a long road ahead on its own, Bloys also emphasized that the network isn’t interested in even considering airing a new series until well after the Thrones series finale. That finale is still incubating in the minds of creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who apparently plan to take a year and a half to work on the final season. That means the gap between Seasons 7 and 8 could be even wider, stretching all the way through 2018 and into 2019.
“[Benioff and Weiss] have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule,” Bloys said. “We’ll have a better sense of that once they get further into the writing.”
HBO is clearly not in a hurry to wrap up the series, even if fans lose their minds during the long wait for that final run of episodes. That’s not surprising. This is a network that was happy to give David Chase as much time as he needed to finish The Sopranos and Nic Pizzolatto as much time as he needed to complete a second season of True Detective (diminishing returns or not). Those were prestigious shows but they weren’t Game of Thrones, which will very likely set records for HBO when it finally airs its conclusion. If it means waiting a couple of years to arrive at that ratings explosion, HBO’s probably happy to oblige. And hey, maybe the delay will mean Martin can finish the sixth novel in the series that started it all in the interim. If anything can make the waiting easier, it’s that.
Speaking of Benioff and Weiss and their role in the Thrones universe going forward, Bloys also clarified that the pair will not be involved in the prequels in even a loose way. After eight blockbuster seasons, they’ll hang up their swords and let someone else rule the realm.
“By the time the final season airs, Dan and David will have been at this for 12 years. Which is an amazing fact. They didn’t go and do movies in between seasons, they didn’t set anything else up, they put everything — and are putting everything — into this show,” Bloys said. “They came into HBO with an idea for a show with a beginning, middle, and end, and they want to see it through. In conversations with them, they feel if their name is on the prequels — even in a passive way — it conveys some sort of expectation or responsibility. They want to enjoy the show as fans and don’t want to worry about the scripts or production issues. We were hoping to have their names on it out of respect for them, but we understand why they don’t want that.”
Game of Thrones returns July 16. Enjoy the new episodes while you can.