In recent months, HBO and various people on the creative side of Game of Thrones haven’t exactly been shy about admitting that season 7 of the show is likely to be presented differently than all of the previous seasons. The season, they’ve said, will probably have fewer than the usual ten episodes, and may even debut later in the year than the series’ usual April debuts.
The reason for this? When it comes to the fewer episodes, the creators have an exact amount of story left to tell and have determined, for whatever reason, that telling that story will require fewer than 20 remaining episodes. As for the delay in production, each season of Game of Thrones has taken longer and been more difficult to produce than the one before - an issue exasperated by the need for colder weather in the TV show’s more Northern filming locations in season 7 (after all, “Winter is here"). Now, we have official confirmation from HBO that such rumors are true.
Game of Thrones’ seventh season will indeed run for only seven episodes, and will debut in the summer rather than the spring of next year, per the announcement from HBO. The network did not announce a specific release date for the show's next season, but here is HBO programming president Casey Bloys's statement on the matter:
“Now that winter has arrived on ‘Game of Thrones,’ executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss felt that the storylines of the next season would be better served by starting production a little later than usual, when the weather is changing. Instead of the show’s traditional spring debut, we’re moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule.”
In addition, HBO announced the the season is mostly being filmed in Northern Ireland, with other locations including several cities in Spain (Sevilla, Caceres, Almodovar del Rio, Santiponce, Zumaia and Bermeo) as well as Iceland. And the network confirmed earlier reports that Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Matt Shakman and Alan Taylor will direct episodes in Season 7.
What can we glean from this? Well, the filming in Iceland indicates that we’re going to spend some time in season 7 North of the Wall, while Northern Ireland has served as the location headquarters for King’s Landing, as well as various other interiors, throughout the series. As for Spain: the country has been used in the past to stand in for (ahem) everyone’s favorite location, Dorne, although one could guess that the numerous locations in Spain will be used for various places that Daenerys Targaryen will be visiting and/or laying waste to during her conquest of Westeros.
Yes, it’s disappointing that Game of Thrones fans will have to wait a few months longer for the resolution to Season 6’s plots. But if it results in a better, more satisfying show? It will be worth the wait. After all, HBO spent years making fans wait uncommon amounts of time for new episodes of The Sopranos, a series whose production was never nearly as complex.
Game of Thrones will debut in the summer of 2017 on HBO; an official date has not yet been announced.