The hit HBO series, which is set to end after season eight, has also been teased via a brief new trailer with dragon graphics and selected lines of dialogue.
Unlike previous 10-episode seasons, the seventh will consist of just seven installments and will be a combination of original stories and elements from creator George RR Martin’s eagerly awaited novels The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
Details are scarce, but star Emilia Clarke has teased that there will be “another battle that’s epic” to follow on from the Battle of the Bastards.
Showrunner David Benioff has also spoken about the show heading towards its conclusion after the eighth season and what viewers can expect. “The pieces are on the board now,” he said last year. “Some of the pieces have been removed from the board and we are heading toward the endgame. The thing that has excited us from the beginning, back to the way we pitched it to HBO is, it’s not supposed to be an ongoing show, where every season it’s trying to figure out new storylines. We wanted it to be one giant story, without padding it out to add an extra 10 hours, or because people are still watching it. We wanted to do something where, if people watched it end to end, it would make sense as one continuous story. We’re definitely heading into the endgame now.”
The new season will reunite surviving cast members but also introduce Oscar winner Jim Broadbent. “I’m a maester, an archmaester,” he said of his role. “I’m an old professor character.”
Once the series concludes, there’s already speculation that it might lead to a spin-off. Last year, HBO’s programming president, Casey Bloys, spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the possibility. “It’s such a big property we would be foolish not to explore it, but it’s a pretty high bar,” he said. “We’ll take some shots at it. I’m not going to do it just to do it. It has to feel very special. I would rather have no sequel and leave it as is than have something we rushed out.”
|Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) in Game of Thrones. Photograph: HBO|
‘Game of Thrones’ Melts Ice, Reveals July Return
On Thursday “Game of Thrones” fans learned the information they have awaited for months: Season 7 of the show will arrive on July 16. But first they had to spend over an hour watching ice melt.
In a memorably misguided marketing gimmick, HBO revealed the premiere date in a Facebook Live video but made fans work for it, concealing the information in a block of ice and asking viewers to comment “Fire” as a torch heated it.
Fans watched ice melt for more than 15 minutes, with “Game of Thrones” stars like Isaac Hempstead Wright and Lena Headey occasionally appearing in the video to urge them to comment. Then the video stopped working.
It returned after a few minutes and then malfunctioned again, a cycle it would repeat several times. Finally at around 3:09 p.m., after over an hour of stops, starts and countless derisive tweets, the date was revealed.
All told, the ice gimmick lasted longer than an average episode of “Game of Thrones.”
Whatever mockery the show inspired on Thursday, all will no doubt be forgiven by July. Over six seasons, the dense fantasy saga, based on novels by George R.R. Martin, evolved from a big ticket gamble into one of the most celebrated pop culture franchises in the world. The series, with an average of 10.6 million viewers per episode in Season 6, has become the most watched ever for HBO. (The network says actual viewing is more than twice that number when alternate platforms are included.)
The announcement of the Season 7 premiere date is bittersweet for fans, who are eager for the show’s return but aware that it will be the beginning of the end. The creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have confirmed that there will only be 13 more episodes of the show, split over two abbreviated seasons — seven this year, six in 2018. The first six seasons had 10 episodes each.
“Game of Thrones” seasons have historically debuted in the spring, but the production pushed back the shooting schedule to allow for colder weather at the show’s outdoor locations. (Winter, long promised in the story, is finally arriving.)
This means that the show, which has won the most Emmy Awards of any scripted series in history, including best drama in each of the last two years, will not qualify for the awards in 2017. (May 31 is the cutoff date for 2017 Emmy eligibility.)
Last season wrapped up (spoiler alert) with the cruel but cagey Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) seated on the Iron Throne, with other disparate elements of the sprawling story beginning to converge for a final (sure-to-be-violent) clash.