At one point, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss reportedly had an out-of-the-box idea about how to release the much-anticipated final season of HBO’s blockbuster fantasy series that’s returning one last time in 2019.
It’s no secret that a massive battle is part of GoT’s season 8, and as the producers were planning ahead and looking at how massive the budgets were going to need to be, they wondered whether they should take the 6-hour, 6-episode final season and just package it into three 2-hour movies that would be released in theaters.
As reported in a new exclusive look by Entertainment Weekly into the show’s coming final season, Weiss and Benioff wondered if that might be the best way to ensure they got the time and money to do the show’s final episodes right.
HBO is, of course, a network funded by paying subscribers, so the brass respectfully declined the idea as it circumvented those customers. “But executives assured Benioff and Weiss,” EW reports, “that they would eventually have everything they needed to make a final season that was ‘a summer tentpole-size spectacle.’ Years later, the producers would strike a deal with the network to spend two years on a shortened season 8 that would cost more than $15 million an episode.”
“…Since season 3, Benioff and Weiss willed their ambitious final season into reality the hard way: By growing Game of Thrones into the biggest show in the world, a hugely profitable pop culture and merchandising sensation with more than 30 million viewers an episode and a record number of Emmys. Only with that kind of leverage do your towering ambitions begin to look like reasonable requests.”
Go on and dive into that EW feature for more juicy details. In it, we also learn the Game of Thrones showrunners are moving on to write a Star Wars film next.
“At some point,” the EW piece notes, “HBO will release a proper final-season trailer revealing more. Until then, here’s some basic setup we can tell you: Season 8 opens at Winterfell with an episode that contains plenty of callbacks to the show’s pilot. Instead of King Robert’s procession arriving, it’s Daenerys and her army. What follows is a thrilling and tense intermingling of characters — some of whom have never previously met, many who have messy histories — as they all prepare to face the inevitable invasion of the Army of the Dead.”
The piece refers to that confrontation between the living and the dead as the most sustained action sequence ever made for a TV show — or movie. The piece also gently corrects some previous reporting stemming from last April, when someone on the show’s crew revealed that they’d just wrapped 55 straight nights of shooting a battle sequence. News outlets around the world pounced on that exciting detail, except it wasn’t actually the full story. Again, from EW: “The 55 nights were only for the battle’s outdoor scenes at the Winterfell set. Filming then moved into the studio, where (director Miguel) Sapochnik continued shooting the same battle for weeks after that.”
Winter is coming. And so is what sounds like one of the most ambitious, unforgettable moments in recent TV history, once episode one of the final season premieres and we begin our slow, six-episode goodbye to a fantastic series.