After six seasons (and no movie) Winter has finally arrived in Game of Thrones and an epic battle for Westeros is about to commence. I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t seen it yet, but things are happening, and all the major players are moving into position. Traditionally, Game of Thrones has launched a new season in April, and it was expected that next year's run would follow suit. However, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have some bad news for us, and we’re in for a slightly longer wait.
"We don't have an air date yet, but this year will probably be a little bit later. 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 any more. So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim grey weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot.”
The annual nine and a half month drought of GOT is never an easy thing for fans to endure, and the prospect of not having a fixed return date makes the wait all the harder to accept. That said, the showrunners know best and we can’t very well have The Night King and his White Walkers murdering their way to Westeros in crisp daylight.
A delay of unknown length isn’t the only change we can expect when GOT returns, shortly after the season six finale Benioff revealed that there were only thirteen episodes left to complete the epic story.
"I think we're down to our final 13 episodes after this season. We're heading into the final lap," That's the guess, though nothing is yet set in stone, but that's what we're looking at.”
In a separate interview with Deadline a couple of weeks later, Benioff confirmed that we’re dangerously close to the end.
"From pretty close to the beginning, we talked about doing this in 70-75 hours and that’s what we’ll end up with. Call it 73 for now. We’re trying to tell one cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end.”
The exact episode count for the final two seasons remains a mystery, but it is believed that season seven will be six episodes in length and season eight will consist of seven instalments. Game of Thrones returns to HBO sometime next year.