Bittersweet is a word you’ll hear a lot when describing the final season of “Game of Thrones.” The series, which has the record number of Emmy Awards (47), will premiere for the final time in 2019 and with it, the six-episode season will be the biggest but also the most heartbreaking in the series’ history. So, while fans are desperately excited to see the final hours of ‘Thrones,’ there’s also the dread of knowing that favorite characters will meet their end. However, back in 2012, during the filming of the series’ third season, the original plan for the final season was very different.
In a new story over at EW, the outlet released some never-before-seen secrets about the original planned ending of “Game of Thrones,” and also gave some new details about the plot of a couple episodes of the upcoming Season 8.
As for the original ending, creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, were concerned back in 2012 that HBO wouldn’t give them the appropriate budget for what they would need to tell the story well. Back then, each episode cost roughly $5 million, and knowing this, the creators devised a plan that would simultaneously allow for the budgets to grow and for the series to be told in the proper way — three feature-length films.
Here’s how EW explains:
“So the producers had an idea: The final season could be six hours long and released as three movies in theaters — just like Martin’s best-known influence, ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ It’s not that the duo wanted to make movies per se, but it seemed like the only way to get the time and money needed to pull off their finale. ‘It’s what we’re working towards in a perfect world,’ Weiss said. ‘We end up with an epic fantasy story but with the level of familiarity and investment in the characters that are normally impossible in a two-hour movie.’”
Of course, now we know that never came to pass, as HBO decided to grant Weiss and Benioff all the money necessary to bring the epic series to its inevitable conclusion. “They put their money where their mouths are — literally stuffed their mouth full of million-dollar bills, which don’t exist anymore,” Weiss joked. And how much money are we talking about? Each of the final six episodes of “Game of Thrones” came with a $15 million price tag. And when you add that up, the shortened season cost roughly $90 million altogether. At that price, it appears that HBO got a deal.
The other major part of the plan, according to the creators, was to make sure the series stopped at the appropriate time and didn’t overstay its welcome (looking at you, “The Walking Dead”). “We want to stop where we — the people working on it, and the people watching it — both wish it went a little bit longer,” Benioff says. “There’s the old adage of ‘Always leave them wanting more,’ but also things start to fall apart when you stop wanting to be there. You don’t want to fuck it up.”
And so Benioff and Weiss began work on the final season, with unprecedented levels of secrecy (which came from advice from the duo’s upcoming Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy and colleague Rian Johnson). And up until now, fans have been completely in the dark about what’s to come. As we said…until now.
EW goes on to describe what the opening of the season features:
“Season 8 opens at Winterfell with an episode that contains plenty of callbacks to the show’s pilot. Instead of King Robert’s procession arriving, it’s Daenerys and her army. What follows is a thrilling and tense intermingling of characters — some of whom have never previously met, many who have messy histories — as they all prepare to face the inevitable invasion of the Army of the Dead.
How these fan favorites get along drives much of the drama this season (okay, here’s one specific tease from the premiere — Sansa isn’t thrilled that Jon bent the knee to his fancy new Targaryen girlfriend, at least not at first).”
Another episode that is given a little more context is a later season entry that is nothing but wall-to-wall action, a la “The Battle of the Bastards” episode. And as with that episode, this new action-packed installment will be helmed by Miguel Sapochnik. This is apparently the episode that made news earlier in the year when a ‘GoT’ crew member posted an image that showed that Sapochnik and the rest of the cast and crew spent 55 nights shooting the episode. According to EW, however, what they didn’t tell you is that the 55 nights only included exterior shooting. Sapochnik and everyone took “weeks” to finish filming all the interior scenes.
One thing that isn’t told is when we’ll get an official trailer or when the series will finally hit HBO. But for now, there’s plenty of news to keep fans going for a little while longer.