‘Game of Thrones’ de­but draws record 10.1-mil­lion view­ers

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY LYNN EL­BER

Women dom­i­nate Wes­teros as never be­fore, and it’s the same with the “Game of Thrones’’ rat­ings.

The HBO drama’s sev­enth­sea­son pre­miere last week­end drew a record-set­ting 10.1 mil­lion view­ers, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen com­pany fig­ures re­leased Tues­day.

That eclipsed pre­vi­ous toprated “Game of Thrones’’ episodes, in­clud­ing the 8.11 mil­lion who watched the sea­son five fi­nale in 2015 and the eight mil­lion who tuned in to that year’s opener.

The num­bers rep­re­sent view­ers who watched the episodes as they first aired. Many more join the party through stream­ing and DVR view­ings.

As the new sea­son opened, Cer­sei Lan­nis­ter (Lena Headey) is atop the Iron Throne as queen of Wes­teros; Daen­erys Tar­garyen (Emilia Clarke) com­mands an ex­ten­sive army, and Arya Stark (Maisie Wil­liams) is ex­act­ing re­venge for Red Wed­ding fam­ily deaths.

There was one eye-catch­ing new man: Pop star Ed Sheeran had a cameo in the pre­miere.

The glit­ter­ing rat­ings will have to make up for a lack of 2017 Emmy gold.

The se­ries re­turned out­side the awards’ el­i­gi­bil­ity win­dow, so “Game of Thrones’’ was miss­ing from the field of nom­i­nees an­nounced last week af­ter it dom­i­nated last year’s Em­mys.

Viewer fas­ci­na­tion clearly is build­ing as the fan­tasy saga based on Ge­orge R.R. Martin’s books draws to­ward its end. Af­ter this penul­ti­mate sea­son of seven episodes, fewer than the usual 10, HBO has said there will be one more with an ex­pected eight episodes.

That doesn’t mean Martin’s imag­i­na­tion will be ab­sent from HBO.

The chan­nel pre­vi­ously an­nounced that four scripts are in devel­op­ment for pos­si­ble se­ries, and Martin dis­closed in May that a fifth project is in the mix — but how much of a “Game of Thrones’’ pedi­gree they’ll have is un­clear.

On his web­site, Martin said that each of the con­cepts un­der devel­op­ment is a pre­quel rather than a se­quel, and may not even be set on the myth­i­cal con­ti­nent of Wes­teros. Rather than the terms “spinoff’’ or “pre­quel,’’ Martin said he prefers “suc­ces­sor show.’’

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