Game of Thrones' final season may have a reduced episode count, but those episodes might be getting super-sized.
As anticipation builds for the July 16th premiere of the penultimate seventh season of HBO's epic, bloody fantasy drama, cast and crew took part in the first Game of Thrones fan convention, Con of Thrones, over the weekend in Nashville.
The convention was more of a celebration of the show than any sort of platform for new information, but per a report from Deadline, sound designer Paula Fairfield offered up a small, intriguing morsel about the show's format in its eighth and final season. Fairfeld suggested that while the seventh season's seven episodes will be the standard hour length (with the exception of the season finale, said to be 82 minutes long), season eight may see the show go out with an entire season of film length installments. While noting that production on the final season is yet to begin and things could change, Fairfeld suggested it's likely that each of the six episodes in the final season could clock in around 80 minutes.
Expanded episodes sounds like an obvious reason to rejoice for fans of the show, but they can be something of a double-edged sword. Shows like Sherlock and Black Mirror have regularly utilized feature length episodes to great effect, but those shows tend to tell more self-contained stories than the sprawling, highly serialized Game of Thrones. There is a recent history of high-profile, prestige dramas using extended run times as they approach their conclusions; some of them have been used to great effect (Mad Men, Justified) while others ended up using it as a lazy crutch that ended up adding nothing to the end product, a problem exemplified by Sons of Anarchy's seemingly endless final season.
With all that in mind, this is probably a sound strategy for Game of Thrones. There is seemingly still a tremendous amount of story to tell in the remaining 13 installments in Westeros. Expanding the final run in both time and scale is a sensible compromise for those worried that the show might not have left enough time to finish its story, or for fans simply disappointed that the series is so close to the finish line. Game of Thrones has been HBO's crown jewel for six years, so it's only fitting that they let it wrap up with a length and import equal of any Hollywood blockbuster.
Game of Thrones' seventh season premieres July 16th on HBO.