The final season of Game of Thrones will bring about the most expensive and longest running episodes, but it will also be filled with the shortest episode count in the series so far. But the plan for the last episodes in Westeros wasn't always set in stone.
Series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss knew the ending of the TV adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire would always be massive, despite their initial pitch to HBO. And as the series kept getting bigger, they imagined capping the series off with a series of three movies released in theaters, much like J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
According to a report, the producers pitched a six-hour finale that would be released in theaters as three separate movies, thinking that it would be the most logical method to get the necessary amount of time and budget needed for their vision of the finale.
"It’s what we’re working towards in a perfect world," Weiss said to Entertainment Weekly. "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."
But HBO is in the business of making their subscribers happy, so a theatrical release was out of the question. But their budget did increase from around an average of $5 million per episode, to $15 million.
"They put their money where their mouths are — literally stuffed their mouth full of million-dollar bills, which don’t exist anymore," Weiss joked.
The series has obviously grown since its premiere, both in scope and viewership. That was the secret plan all along, as Benioff said, saying "the lie we told is the show is contained and it’s about the characters."
"The worlds get so big, the battles get so massive," he admitted, knowing that the show stayed focused on the cast, but it's also become so expansive that it required a larger budget. Luckily, the sales in merchandise and the increase in subscribers gave HBO justification to up their cost. Not to mention all of the award recognition.
And while all of the success might have TV execs frothing at the mouth to keep their cash cow running, the producers are happy to end the series where it is.
"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 f— it up."
The final season of Game of Thrones is scheduled to premiere in 2019.