'Game of Thrones' Season 7 Episode Count, Premiere Date Revealed

HBO also confirms that the series will not return until summer 2017.
HBO

The end of the road is indeed in sight for Game of Thrones.

HBO on Monday released details of the upcoming seventh season, including an episode count and filming locations. Season seven will consist of seven episodes, down from its standard 10. The series will launch in summer 2017 — a delay from its typical March/April frame. The summer premiere means that Game of Thrones' seventh season will not be eligible for the 2017 Emmys. That news comes just days after the fantasy saga scored a leading 23 nominations — marking the third year in a row the reigning Emmy drama series winner led the pack. 

Production will begin this summer and will be based in Northern Ireland, while other locations set to be featured next season include Spain and Iceland. Shooting locations in Spain include Seville, Caceres, Almodovar del Rio, Santiponce, Zumaia and Bermeo.

HBO also confirmed directors for season seven include Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Matt Shakman and Alan Taylor.

"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,” HBO programming president Casey Bloys said. “Instead of the show’s traditional spring debut, we’re moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule.”

The news of the delay and reduced episode count comes as no surprise. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed that production will start later than expected as they wait for gloomy weather in a bid to capture a forecast that reflects the "winter is here" moment revealed in the season six finale. HBO's release did not acknowledge either timing of when production would begin or when the new season would premiere.

"We don't have an air date yet," the showrunners said July 6. "We're starting a bit later because at the end of this season, 'winter is here' — and that means that sunny weather doesn't really serve our purposes anymore. So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim, gray weather, even in the sunnier places that we shoot."

The news of the reduced episode count comes after the showrunners previously told THR that they were "writing the final act" for the adaptation of HBO's most-watched series and were "looking at somewhere between 70 and 75 hours before the credits roll for the last time." As of the season six finale, Thrones had produced 60 episodes.

Meanwhile, an episode count for season eight has yet to be determined as the official renewal has not yet been announced, though that is all but a formality.

With the series is approaching its endgame, stars Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) each recently scored pay bumps. They'll each earn upward of $500,000 per episode for season seven, which has already been announced, and in the likely eighth season. The cast raises result from an option that was part of their last deal with HBO, signed in October 2014, which saw the five stars become among the highest-paid actors on cable TV. The premium network had the option on season seven, and that has now been exercised and packaged with season eight. While the five stars are locked in, it does not guarantee that their characters will survive through what is expected to be the end of the series.

Game of Thrones ranks as HBO's most-watched series ever and is the premium cabler's longest-running show currently on the air. It is expected to return sometime in 2017.

The reduced order comes at a critical time for HBO, which recently promoted Casey Bloys to take over for longtime president of programming Michael Lombardo. Bloys is currently looking to put his stamp on HBO and recently abandoned plans for a second season of Vinyl. Next up are Sarah Jessica Parker comedy Divorce, Issa Rae's Insecure, David Simon's The Deuce and the highly anticipated (and twice delayed) adaptation of Westworld, the latter of which is set for a fall debut.

For full Game of Thrones coverage, go to THR.com/GameOfThrones.

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