HBO president: Game of Thrones prequel won’t air until 2020 at the earliest

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HBO programming president Casey Bloys turned out for the 23rd Annual Critics Choice Awards yesterday. Game of Thrones didn’t win Best Drama (it lost to The Handmaid’s Tale) and Peter Dinklage didn’t win Best Supporting Actor (he lost Stranger Things’ David Harbour), but the evening was far from a loss. Bloys talked at length about what’s in store for Game of Thrones season 8…and beyond.

Let’s start with season 8, which is coming in 2019. Why do we have to wait that long? Bloys explained the situation to Entertainment Weekly:

"Here’s what I’ll tell you: They take the time they need to do the show at its highest level of quality. As the show has gone on, it’s gotten bigger — big battle scenes, big special effects. These things take time. Here’s the one thing I can assure you: [showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff] were not sitting around on a beach waiting to go back to work. They’re perfectionists and this is the soonest it can come back at a level of quality that they are comfortable with."

Deadline asked Bloys about this as well. To hear them tell it, Bloys “noted that the final episodes feature bigger battles, more and more elaborate special effects, and the storyline requires linear filming that take longer to complete.” Makes sense.

Also up for discussion was the length of the final episodes. With only six in the offing, fans are hoping they’ll be longer than usual. “It really will be dependent on when the showrunners get the cuts and what they’re happy with,” Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter. “Everything on Game of Thrones is driven by their desire to make the best show possible. When we’re going to air, how long the episodes are — we’re taking their lead on what they need.”

Beyond that, Bloys confirmed  that HBO intends to air the episodes “six in a row,” which presumably means they won’t take any gap weeks for holidays. And don’t hold out hope for IMAX releases or anything special like that. The episodes will be “[o]n the air, for subscribers.”

All of that is good to know, but are the episodes any good? “They’re great. It’s fantastic,” Bloys said. “The fans are going to be very, very happy.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 04: HBO Topper Casey Bloys attends the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County’s (PPAP) Politics, Sex,

Perhaps more notably, Bloys fielded plenty of questions about the five Game of Thrones prequel shows in development, all of which are still shrouded in mystery. What are HBO’s plans for these shows?

"If we do a pilot and series, nothing is going to air on HBO until at least a year after the final season. We’re not doing a final season and then, “Following it at 11 p.m. … .” I’ve seen some exciting material. We have really great writers working on these; it’s very exciting. But there’s no timetable. Not everybody is on the same schedule, so I’ve seen different versions of different things that are potentially exciting. But there’s no timetable about when a decision would be made about any of them."

Bloys put it slightly differently to Deadline: “I want the final season of Game of Thrones to be the final season of Game Of Thrones, I don’t want to use it to launch something else, I want it to stand as the finale of the greatest tv show of all time, I don’t want to do anything that infringes on that.”

In any case, that means that any Game of Thrones prequel would air in 2020 at the earliest, although that doesn’t foreclose the possibility that HBO could film a pilot sooner than that, which Bloys acknowledged. As for how many prequels HBO will make, Bloys put it at “anywhere from zero to five!” And then he laughed cause he made a funny, but let’s be real: “Though probably more likely one.” There it is.

Finally, Bloys confirmed that, while HBO clearly wants a Game of Thrones prequel (or prequels), it has no interest in revivals, reboots, or remakes. “This story, A Song of Fire and Ice, is done,” Bloys told THR. “There’s no revival, reboot, spinoff talk.”

So that’s a lot to chew on. While you process it, please enjoy these images of Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) at the Critics Choice Awards:

If you’re interested, Bloys also talks to THR about the future of other HBO shows like True Detective and Westworld, so feel free to peruse. He also gives an update on Confederate, an upcoming show from Benioff and Weiss that caused a fair bit of controversy back when it was announced:

"Dan and David are in production on Game of Thrones, they are still talking (about Confederate) but it’s going to be a year, year and a half before there is anything. They have to finish GOT."

Benioff and Weiss will not be involved in any of the Game of Thrones prequels, so their plates should be clear enough for Confederate, assuming it isn’t so radioactive HBO chooses not to air it.

Next: Game of Thrones star Tom Wlaschiha: Jaqen H’ghar could kill the Night King

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h/t ABC News