The extra-long wait for Game of Thrones season 7 is being put to very good use.
Production of the upcoming season is taking roughly as long as a regular season of the Emmy-winning fantasy drama — despite making fewer episodes this year.
The HBO drama typically films 10-episode seasons from July to December. The current production is running from September to February to make seven episodes for this summer. So, the GoT team is still spending roughly five months to film the episodes despite producing fewer hours. By comparison, many broadcast network dramas that have to make 22 episodes a season will grind out an episode in only 8-10 days.
Fans used to proclaim that GoT should make more than 10 episodes as that number was considered unusually small when the series first premiered in 2011. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have explained that their series is so labor intensive — shooting in multiple countries, with cinematic action sequences and plenty of post-production visual effects — that it takes the entire year to fulfill their usual commitment. In other words, even doing 10 episodes is exceedingly difficult. So it’s perhaps not surprising the production would seize the opportunity to spend a bit more time filming per episode given its reduced order and summer premiere date.
In a new interview, GoT actor Iain Glen (Ser Jorah) was the first to publicly point out that season 7 was taking the same amount of time to produce, but he added the wait will be worth it for fans. “They are taking the length of time it takes to shoot 10 episodes to shoot just seven this year and six next year,” he said. “There are 15 more hours left in Thrones as we understand it, but that may change, but that’s as far as we know. I think the scale and size of the set pieces, the world that is being created it’s just getting more and more extraordinary and they feel they need that time to shoot seven hours as opposed to 10.”
Note Glen’s quick self-correction that it’s not yet confirmed that Thrones final season will have only six episodes. The producers have sounded pretty firm about that number, but HBO has not yet announced any information about the eighth season.
Thrones, which swept last year’s Emmys, is nominated for best drama at this Sunday’s Golden Globes on NBC, where it’s up against fellow HBO drama Westworld, Netflix’s Stranger Things, and other favorites. Follow @jameshibberd for GoT news and analysis.