There’s been much speculation about when, exactly, the final season of Game of Thrones starts filming, but we now finally have some crystal clarity. While the first five seasons of the show were on a pretty regular cycle of shooting from the end of July to December or so, the final two seasons posed unique challenges. For one, they’re comprised of only seven and six episodes, respectively, which is less than the traditional 10-episode seasons. Secondly, the producers said that now that winter is here, they needed to be shooting when their locations are colder and more winter-like, so for this current season they pushed the start of filming back to the end of August.
That resulted in Game of Thrones Season 7 premiering in July instead of April of this year, so the curiosity surrounding the Game of Thrones Season 8 filming date is less about when the final season starts shooting and more about when we’ll actually get to see it. But when Collider’s own Christina Radish spoke with star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in anticipation of his new film Shot Caller, Jaime Lannister himself revealed that he’s due to report back to the Game of Thrones sets one last time in October:
“I knew what was going to happen for the first three seasons. After that, it’s been a season at a time. You get the scripts a month before we start shooting, or six weeks, and then you know what’s going to happen that season. But, I don’t know what’s going to happen next season. We go back in October, so maybe in the next few weeks, we’ll get the scripts and I’ll find out. I’m very curious.”
While Season 7 is comprised of three less episodes than usual, it was actually still in production for the same length of time as the previous 10-episode seasons—a six-month stretch from August 31st to February. So while Game of Thrones Season 8 consists of only six episodes, it’s possible it’ll still be filming for five or six months due to the epic scope of these final episodes.
So what does that mean for the Season 8 premiere date? HBO has yet to confirm, and indeed we have no idea how intensive this season will be both in production and post-production, but Game of Thrones has enjoyed its highest ratings yet this season, running in the heart of the summer. If filming begins in October and lasts for six months again, it won’t be wrapped until April 2018. And if post-production is the same length as it was for Season 7, that would put it on track for a September 2018 airdate.
It’s certainly possible HBO sticks with this, giving Game of Thrones its fall drama series slot. Or it’s possible that HBO decides to hold the final season for a more splashy debut sometime in 2019—perhaps the spring or summer. That would be a long wait, but as Sopranos fans know, HBO isn’t exactly afraid to shake up the air cycle of its series.