While HBO has yet to confirm the season 8 premiere year (which EW first revealed was the most likely option back in June), Turner let slip in a new Variety interview that “Game of Thrones comes out in 2019.”
Her quote follows news that GoT — which is currently shooting its final six episodes — will continue filming until the summer of 2018 (which also suggested that the show wouldn’t be back until the following year given the amount of post-production work required for each season).
The 2019 date arguably benefits HBO a couple ways. Since Game of Thrones season 7 aired last summer, the show is competing in the 2018 Emmy awards, which air next fall — which allows HBO to focus GoT publicity efforts on its Emmy campaign next year rather than promoting a new season at the same time. Also, when you’re a subscription-based network, keeping the highest-rated show in your history around for a bit longer never hurts either.
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But ultimately the reason for the pushback seems to stem from GoT showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss simply looking to take their time and make the final season as epic as possible. The Emmy-winning duo explained previously they wanted to spend a year and a half making the fantasy show’s climactic round. Former GoT actor Jason Momoa recently visited the season 8 set in Belfast and declared the final season is “going to be the greatest thing that’s ever aired on TV. It’s going to be unbelievable. It’s going to f— up a lot of people.”
In the same interview, Turner teased a bit to Sansa Stark’s storyline in the final season: “This season, there’s a new threat, and all of a sudden she finds herself somewhat back in the deep end. And without Littlefinger, it’s a test for her of whether she can get through it … This season is more a passionate fight for her than a political, manipulative kind of fight.”