‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Won’t Be Back Until Summer 2017 And Has Shortest Episode List Ever

On Monday, HBO officially released several details about the upcoming season of Game of Thrones, and fans of the epic show have some major changes to contend with. For starters, the number of episodes in Season 7 will be less, and we will have to wait until summer for these episodes.

Down from the standard 10 episodes, the new episode count is sure to sadden many, as the next season will only consist of seven episodes. Entertainment Weekly advised that the fact that the premiere date has also been changed is due to winter finally arriving in the land of the seven kingdoms. Instead of the usual March/April time frame, the series will be delayed and launched in the summer of 2017. The change is so that the locations where the show will be shot will be sufficiently covered in snow to depict the change in seasons.

Northern Ireland, Spain, and Iceland are locations that HBO said will be used for the next season. The Thrones team actually have not used Iceland for any significant shooting in a couple of years — not since Jon Snow was camping out with the Wildlings North of the Wall.

The president of HBO programming, Casey Bloys, gave more insight into the decision.

“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.”

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss reflect that the “winter is here” moment announced in the Season 6 finale is the entire reasoning behind waiting for more gloomy weather even in the places that they typically shoot the spring season. Nowhere in HBO’s release did they state when production would truly begin, and they have yet to reveal the premiere date of the new season.

The fact that the episode list has been shortened comes as no surprise to many as the producers had previously announced that they only intend to make a limited amount of future episodes, capping off between 70 and 70 hours. As of the end of Season 6 of Game of Thrones, they had reached 60 episodes. As such along with the seven episodes next year fans can expect another six episodes in the eighth and final season.

The delay from the typical summer premiere does also mean that the seventh season of Game of Thrones’ will not be eligible for the Emmy’s in 2017. This information comes just days after 23 primetime Emmy nominations were announced for the fantasy saga in this year’s award program, which for the third year in a row is more than any other series has received. With each season Thrones has managed to increase its production values, and since fewer episodes are coming, it will likely allow more time for the show’s team to give even more to every hour of the show.

Season 6 of Thrones broke HBO ratings records, again, with each episode averaging more than 23 million viewers, which includes online streaming, repeats, and DVR playback.

The producers have tapped directors Jeremy Podeswa, Alan Taylor, Mark Mylod, and Matt Shakman for Season 7.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that while the end is in sight for the series, the major stars, Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) have each recently scored pay bumps. Each will earn upward of $500,000 per episode in Season 7. Although Season 8 has not been announced as yet, it is merely a formality at this point, and their pay increase will likely extend to the eighth season as well.

The pay raises result from an option that was part of the last deal the cast made with HBO, signed in October 2014, and saw the five stars join the ranks of the highest-paid actors on cable TV. While the five stars are locked in for Season 7 and 8. this does not guarantee that their characters will survive to the end of the series.

In addition to being HBO’s most-watched series ever, the Game of Thrones saga also ranks as the longest-running show currently on the air and will return in Summer 2017.

[Image via HBO]