The penultimate season of Game of Thrones is almost upon us, and it will be slightly different than what’s come before. First of all, it’s arriving later than previous seasons. Second, the series will return with a shortened seven episode count rather than the usual 10.
Season 8 will be even shorter, with one less episode, which brings the count of the final season to just six episodes. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be any less of Game of Thrones. During this past weekend’s Con of Thrones (via Vanity Fair), sound designer Paula Fairfield revealed that each episode of season 8 could end up being feature length rather than the usual hour (plus-or-minus) runtime.
What actually constitutes “feature length,” according to the outlet, seems to be episodes that are 80 minutes and over (similar to the BBC’s Sherlock series). So even at the most conservative estimate, we’re looking at is an eight-hour final season. That means the final season of Game of Thrones would be lengthier than season 7, which officially clocks in at seven hours and 22 minutes in total.
Game of Thrones has seen its episodes vary in length over the years ,especially when it comes to season finales. Season 7 is no special case in that regard. However, up until now the longest episode has been 69 minutes, but an episode in season 7 will leave that number in the dust. The penultimate episode will clock in at 71 minutes and the finale will be 81 minutes long.
Having season 8 of Game of Thrones be even longer per episode feels like a natural extension of that, especially when many fans suspect it will basically be an entire season of war against the white walkers, and will probably need all of those extra minutes to really give the series the epic finale it deserves.
This all brings up another interesting possibility… If the episode length for each season 8 episode is even longer, at around 90 minutes, then the final season may be on par with a regular 10-episode season. The average length of a Game of Thrones episode hovers around 55 minutes, so each season is roughly just over nine hours long. Fans have wondered how showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff could possibly condense the final two unpublished books into two shortened seasons. The answer to that riddle seems to be they really aren’t at all.
Game of Thrones season 7 will premiere on July 16, 2017 on HBO.