It looks like critics are going to have to wait along with eager fans to watch Game of Thrones season 7. The HBO fantasy-drama has become a world-wide phenomenon during the past seven years, which makes the series susceptible to leaks and spoilers from those who just can't wait until the episodes air. Because of this, the new season has been shrouded in secrecy in an attempt to keep the storylines of all our favorite characters, like newly-minted King of the North Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Dragon Queen Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), a surprise for fans when it hits our small screens next month.
This season has already been plagued with leaked photos and plot points online (those individuals have already been called out by Ayra Stark herself), and in the past, Game of Thrones has had a run of bad luck when it comes to keeping its episodes under lock and key - like when the first four episodes of season 5 leaked online, back in 2015. This year, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are taking unique measures to insure that the world's most illegally downloaded series does not fall victim to leaks again.
According to EW, HBO will not be making any Game of Thrones season 7 episodes available in advance for the press. This is not the first time HBO has decided against releasing early Game of Thrones screeners for critics and reviewers - the same decision was made last year for season 6, after season 5's first handful of episodes leaked onto BitTorrent.
It is customary for DVD screeners of the first couple of episodes from any TV show's season to be given to critics weeks before said seasons are set to premiere - and for the remainder of an individual season, each episode is made available in private online screening rooms, a week before said episode airs. However, the world at large will be in the dark for Game of Thrones season 7 and, considering in the past leaks have gotten out that spoiled major plot points, it makes total sense why HBO has decided to put its foot down again and release each season 7 episode to everyone at the same time, in order to prevent spoilers.
Benioff and Weiss aren't keeping fans totally in the dark about Game of Thrones season 7. So far, we know the final episodes of the short season will be the longest episodes yet, with the finale running 81 minutes. We've also seen footage from this season, thanks to the epic Game of Thrones season 7 trailer that was released online a couple of weeks ago - a preview filled to the brim with battles, dragons and a whole lot of snowy weather (winter has arrived, after all). That alone should be enough to tide over fans and critics alike, until the big premiere date this summer.
Game of Thrones season 7 premieres July 16th on HBO.