We already knew the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones would be supersized thanks to its massive budget. Network CEO Richard Plepler only compounded those expectations when he described Season 8 as a “spectacle” akin to “six movies.” Such grand ambition would be par the course for television’s biggest blockbuster, but even then, we couldn’t have expected just how capital-B big the show was going to be in its final season.
Vanity Fair caught French TV network Orange Cinéma Séries promoting the final season as “XXL,” which prompted the magazine Première to ask the network for clarification. The response, translated into English, teased 60-minute episodes for the season’s first two installments followed by gargantuan 80-minute episodes for its final four frames. (For comparison, the average running time for Game of Thrones episodes before Season 7’s similarly truncated but supersize run was 55 minutes.)
It’s worth noting that at a total of seven hours and 20 minutes, Season 8 is the exact same length as Season 7, which produced seven episodes. But thanks to story structure and budgetary concerns—the five main actors are paid upwards of $500,000 per episode—lopping off one episode made too much sense for the network. Still, the fact that these chapters are so mammoth isn’t all that surprising given the hype surrounding the final season’s explosive events—Kit Harington (Jon Snow) recently said he believes it could “change TV.”
A cover story for Entertainment Weekly late last year teased an epic battle the likes of which television has never seen. It will be directed by none other than Miguel Sapochnik, who helmed the GoT episodes “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards.” For what it’s worth, Peter Dinklage (who plays Tyrion Lannister) said in the piece that this new battle saga makes the latter look like a “theme park.”
It’s sad to know we have such limited time in Westeros left (well, until the Game of Thrones prequel, of course), but it’s encouraging to see how large in scope and scale the conclusion will be.
Game of Thrones premieres April 14 on HBO.