'Game of Thrones'' Final Season to Debut in First Half of 2019

HBO's Casey Bloys also gives an update on the developing 'Thrones' spinoffs.
Courtesy of HBO

The final season of Game of Thrones does not yet have an official return date, but the time frame is certainly narrowing.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association summer press tour this week, HBO programming president Casey Bloys revealed that Thrones will return for its final six episodes in the first half of 2019. Beyond that, he was tight-lipped about what to expect from the adventures of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), other than this: "It's pretty great." One certainly hopes.

Even as Game of Thrones prepares to bring the dragons in for a landing, HBO is already gearing up for its next flight in the world of Westeros. A pilot for a prequel series has been ordered, based on a story created by Jane Goldman and franchise mastermind George R.R. Martin, set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones. It's said to focus on "The Long Night," a period of Westeros history in which humans first fought the dreaded White Walkers.

"We're just starting the search for director [and] casting director," Bloys said at TCA, who added that he hopes the spinoff will begin "shooting sometime in the new year. Beyond that, [there are] no plans to make other ones."

The "other ones," for those not keeping score, are the four other reported Game of Thrones spinoffs that are in various stages of development, with several different writers attached — including ideas sprung from the minds of Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) and even Thrones' own veteran producer Bryan Cogman, to name two. According to Bloys, some of those projects remain in the works, while others are no longer going forward, though he declined to give more specific details.

"We're making a pilot in the first quarter of 2019," Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter, noting, "All I am going to say is that we are shooting the one pilot, and that's the status. The other four are in various stages."

In terms of the main and thus far only Game of Thrones TV series, the HBO drama has some momentum behind it as the show eyes its final season, earning 22 Emmy nominations this year, after being ineligible in 2017.

The early 2019 premiere date for the final season all but guarantees Game of Thrones will end before Martin is able to release the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series on which the show is based, the first book of which was published in 1996. The sixth entry in the series, "The Winds of Winter," has been many years in the making, with the most recently published book, "A Dance With Dragons," issued in 2011, mere weeks after the first season of Thrones concluded. Beyond "Winds," Martin has said there will be one additional Ice and Fire book, "A Dream of Spring." In the fall, Martin will release an in-universe historical fiction novel called "Fire and Blood," based on the history of the Targaryen kings.

Keep checking THR.com/GameOfThrones for more coverage.