Editorial Featured Game of Thrones Iain Glen Season 7

Will the episodes in Game of Thrones Season 7 be longer than usual?

The Winds of Winter

Game of Thrones Season 7 will consist of only seven episodes. We’ve known that for months, since HBO announced it via press release. All six of the show’s past seasons consisted of 10 episodes, so fans will have to content themselves with less when Season 7 premieres this summer.

Probably. Although we definitely know there will be fewer episodes this year, comments from a couple of the show’s cast members have made us wonder if there’s more to the story. First, Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) dropped this nugget in September:

And it’s a shorter series. We only have seven episodes this time. But we’re shooting for just as long, so there’s just as much content. And you guys will not be disappointed.

Then, just recently, Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont) said something along the same lines to the Radio Times:

[The Game of Thrones producers] are taking the length of time it takes to shoot ten episodes to shoot just seven this year and six next year. There are fifteen more hours left in Thrones as we understand it, but that may change, but that’s as far as we know.

First of all, Williams and Glen are both correct that the show is taking as long to film Season 7 as it did previous seasons. In the past, it’s shot from July through December. This year, it’s shooting from September through February. (It started later in the year to take advantage of naturally snowy conditions, winter having come and all.) In both cases, that’s a six-month shoot. But if there’s less material in Season 7, wouldn’t the shoot be shorter? What are they doing with the extra time?

One possible answer: each episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 will be longer than usual. Could we be in for supersized episodes come this summer?


 

It’s possible. Usually, Game of Thrones episodes run between 50 minutes on the short end (at 50 minutes on the dot, “The Red Woman” is the shortest episode of the show so far) and 60 minutes on the long end (“Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards” both clock in at an hour exactly). Most of them fall somewhere in the middle. However, there are times when the show pushes things, mainly in the season finales. “Valar Morghulis,” the Season 2 finale, runs 64 minutes, Season 4’s “The Children” runs 66, and Season 6’s “The Winds of Winter” runs for 68, the longest episode of the show yet produced.

Was the long runtime for “The Winds of Winter” a portent of things to come? That would explain what the producers are doing with all that time. However, another explanation is that they’re just spending more time on less material, making sure the scenes they do have are perfect, rather than filming more than we’re expecting. That take is bolstered by another comment Glen made to the Radio Times:

I think the scale and size of the set pieces, the world that is being created it’s just getting more and more extraordinary and they feel they need that time to shoot seven hours as opposed to ten.

It’s hard to square some of these comments. Glen’s comment above makes it sound like the producers are taking more time to perfect less material, but Williams’ comment about there being “just as much content” makes it sound like there will be…well, just as much literal content as in previous seasons.

19jorah

Jorah thinks it through.

Glen’s comment about there being “fifteen more hours left in Thrones as we understand it” is also interesting. We know Season 7 will be seven episodes long. We’re less sure about Season 8, although HBO has floated the idea of doing a final season of six episodes. Assuming that comes to pass, that means there are 13 more episodes of the show yet to see.

How then are we to take Glen’s comment about “fifteen more hours?” If all the remaining episodes are normal-sized, with one hour roughly equaling one episode, that implies a final season of eight episodes, not six. If, on the other hand, the remaining episodes are longer than normal, that could mean the producers are planning to pack 15 normal-sized episodes worth of content into 13 supersized episodes.

Or Glen and Williams are just talking freely without giving a ton of thought to the implications of their comments. Their word isn’t gospel. Still, it’s food for thought.

Arya Stark Official

So what’s preferable? Knowing there will only be seven episodes in Season 7, would you rather each one be of normal length but crafted with special care, or supersized so there’s as much content as in previous years, but with each moment getting no more polish than usual?

24 Comments

  • Why not both? More time and extra care?

    Also: We’ve generally seen one or two big battles per year. In four, it was Watchers on the Wall.
    In five, it was Hardhome but we had the dragon pit.
    In six, it was Battle of the Bastards.

    There’s supposed to be naval battle early on…that’s where Euron takes his prisoners. And there’s going to be a big ambush in season seven episode four or five. But there’s been talk of shooting a battle with dragons in the far north. That would be three battles in one shorter season. Battles take longer to shoot. That could be an answer.

    And we have to figure there will be the mother of all battles against the White Walkers in the final season. Plus one figuring out who will end up on top.

    A lot more concentrated action would be a good answer.

  • No way to tell from the actors comments. I’m sure they feel the pressure to make these last two seasons as awesome if not better than the previous seasons. They keep raising the bar and I can’t wait to see it!

  • I’m still a little peeved that Westworld threw out a 90 minute finale in their first season and GoT hasn’t given us one of those yet. I’m thinking they may end up having an average run time a bit higher in season seven mainly by “accident.” They’re shooting so much while trying to condense into three fewer episodes than they’re used to. I can definitely see a longer finale too since it should be the final step across the threshold to the climax of the series.

    • I think season 8 final episode might be around 90 minutes long- at some point they will do it, and my guess is not yet, but in 2018.

  • I’ve been reading some of the leaks and if they are valid. It appears as if Season 7 will be more intense than previous seasons. Hence the saying that season 7 is taking just as long to film as the previous seasons. Further let’s face it, there has been a lot of stuff from previous seasons that could easily have been taken out and not have detracted from the over all show. I am talking about things like visiting the brothels or scene after scene showing what a sadist Ramsey was etc.

    • Hoping episodes are longer, since there are less. Last season had a couple that were the longest to date (I think), so hopefully this season beats that one.

      Dan,

      You do realize you posted basically the exact same article 2 days ago? What’s up with that?

  • I’d be pleased with both. Selfishly, I want as much GoT content as possible but 100% respect the show-runner’s wanting to perfect less material. It means a better show for us viewers, and since GoT is going down in TV history – I can see why they want to take extra care.

  • I would really hope theyre longer. If the episodes are as short as last season me along with alot of other fans will be quite displeased with the show. I would def be bummin hard.

  • 11 episodes of 75 minutes each, would be nice. And the last 2 episodes 90 minutes each.

    That would make a fantastic full two seasons.

  • Long ago David Benioff said they shot for a 540 min. season, why?, never explained.
    Every episode that clocked in a less than 60 min. had visual narrative that would have benefited from 5 to 10 min. of elaboration, passes beyond understanding.

  • There’ll still be a couple of episodes between 50 – 52 minutes long. And to save money, there’ll be at least two episodes that make the most of permanent sets, such as King’s Landing interiors. That means more snoozy scenes of the now irrelevant Cersei & Jaime.

  • I hope they go with super sized episodes, but from a marketing perspective it doesn’t make sense. I have several GOT friends that only subscribe to HBO for GOT and then cancel it. So, more episodes would get HBO more monthly fees. I guess with seven they can hit 3 months if spaced right.

  • Great questions, Dan. Ever since Maisie said the amount of filmed content was typical, I’ve been optimistic on two counts. One, that we’d get coherent, well developed stories, hopefully without the rushing through some (Sand Snakes kill Doran and Areo–2 minutes) and airing others that didn’t quite make sense because needed details were elided. Two, that it may mean Arya lives into Season 8. So, Iain Glen’s confirmation is good news.
    Since Cersei’s Surprise offed 20% of the long-term characters, each episode can now follow fewer stories at greater, richer length, perhaps with fewer strained cliff-hangers. Honestly, I think D&D were always aiming at something like perfection, but due to time constraints or minor carelessness or maybe a bit of burnout, occasionally let the ball drop. Sometimes, IMO they succeeded but for various reasons fans were disappointed. In any case, I hope that they choose the most appropriate number of episodes and end up with an average length of 65 minutes with a 90-120 minute Episode 7. But gods forbid that they fall into the Peter Jackson trap, where things get stretched out beyond belief and audience patience. Return of the King deserved all 11 Oscars it got, but its extended set of farewell sequences made me want to run for the exit.

  • Maybe filming has become more expensive. The finale is approaching afterall. Therefore have cut down the episodes to just 7? MAYBE.

  • I’d like to see 75 to 80 minute episodes. I think it’s a better format than 50 to 60 minutes. They have so many stories to tell, and the longer episodes are more immersive. Seven 75 minute episodes is 525 minutes.

  • 7 epic episodes, if each one were as massive as battle of the bastards would be amazing… Just think: in Battle of the bastards there was the battle with dragons sinking ships as well as the most epic battle ever at winterfell… plus the character scenes mixed in… that one episide was easily worth two other episodes

  • For 13 episodes to be 15 hours long, they don’t ALL have to be supersized, probably just the premieres and finales. If the very last episode of the series is 90 minutes or 2 hours long, then there’s a big chunk of the extra 2 hours right there.

    Also, when they say “hours”, they don’t necessarily mean exactly 60 minutes. The usually refer to every episode as an “hour”, even when it’s only 50 minutes. They’re using the word as an approximate reference to an episode worth of content. So if just the finales, for example, are significantly longer as to basically FEEL like 2 episodes worth of content, even if the actual minute count is only like 100 minutes or something… they refer to that as “2 hours” in their approximate “hour” of content.

    This is the way it usually goes in television land. There’s a satire show in Canada called “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”, which references the way “hours” or “half-hours” in television terms means 44 minutes and 22 minutes respectively. Even though HBO doesn’t have conmercials, they still seem to use the practice of referring to their episodes as “hours”, even if they are less than 60 minutes long. I know D&D have said that the show overall would be “70 or 75 hours”… but if you add up all the actual minutes, it wouldn’t equal that many hours. Each season of 10 episodes has only equaled about 9 hours or less in actual minute counts. Again… they’re speaking in tv terms. Any amount of content that’s enough to cover an hour long time slot, with any empty minutes being covered by commercials (or in HBO’s case, promos for other shows)… qualifies as “an hour” of television. Red Woman would still be called an “hour”, even though it’s 10 minutes shy of an actual hour.

    Regarding Maisie’s words, she could easily just be referring to workload of shooting an more complex season with more big scenes that usual. She could be using “content” to refer to how much stuff there is to shoot, even if it ends up covering less screen time. Battle of the Bastards’ battle scenes, for example, took longer to shoot than other scenes which covered more screen time. If you look at Maisie’s comment, she’s definitely said that from the perspective of the shooting schedule. So while she said “content”, which we as an audience tend to interpret as meaning the runtime of the episodes… she as an actor looking at season 7 from the perspective of the workload ahead of her, may have just meant how many shooting days they have, which will be the same as previous seasons, even if it ends up covering less screentime once actually edited.

    I’m personally expecting most of the episodes to be between 55 and 60 minutes, while the premieres will be 60-70 and the finale will be 80-90 minutes for season 7 and 90-100 minutes for the series finale. MAYBE a full 120 minutes, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for that.

  • As I have noted before, everything comes down to money, even at HBO and even with GoT. When the actors renegotiated their contracts for s7 and s8 (they all expired after s6). Lots of them got huge raises, the top 5 making 500k per episode, so do the math. One episode with all 5 in it starts at 2.5 million, add in the other actors, crew, extras, location, costumes, props, etc., it gets to be rediculas even for HBO.

    So how do you lower skyrocketing personel costs? With fewer/longer episodes, focus on one or a few characters in one episode, kill off extraneous characters quicker, etc. = millions in salary savings.

    I think the demands of the actors have really put a wrench into s6 and s7. They should have asked for a slight pay increase and maybe points from other revenue so we could have 20 more episodes, could easily have a few standalone episodes like The Hounds resurrection last season, to fill in the few hours missing from the planned 15.

    Actors need to realize this is the best its going to be for them. Should play nice and ride this out as long as they can. Nothing they have done outside of GoT has been very successful and I doubt that will change after it ends.

    I just hope they didnt peak last year and everyone’s got one eye out the door and the remainder of the series suffers from it. Be careful what you wish for…

  • Hell, we need the Goldilocks solution: just right! The show has had pacing burps but generally did well. If the guys put their minds to it, theyll let the story unwind as it should. Between 13 to 15 hours sounds good to me. I wish George would trim the verbal fat like the show has and get the last two books out soon without shortchanging any story or main character.

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