TEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT... GAME OF THRONES: SEA­SON 8

Win­ter is here. What news from Wes­teros?

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - JOHN NU­GENT

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Af­ter a wait of nearly 18 months, to al­low for win­ter shoot­ing, more am­bi­tious bat­tle scenes and big­ger spe­cial ef­fects, the fi­nal sea­son of Game Of Thrones will be broad­cast in “the first half of 2019”.

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There will be only six episodes, down from last sea­son’s seven, and the pre­vi­ous stan­dard of ten — but each one is likely to be fea­ture-length.

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As with the last sea­son, it’s un­charted ter­ri­tory for Ge­orge R.R. Martin fans. The sea­son adapts ma­te­rial from Martin’s as-yet un­pub­lished fi­nal nov­els in the se­ries, the long-de­layed The Winds Of Win­ter and A Dream Of Spring.

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All the pre­vi­ous sea­son’s sur­viv­ing char­ac­ters will re­turn, with the ex­cep­tion of Dor­nish paramour El­laria Sand (Indira Varma), whose fate re­mains am­bigu­ous; and Ty­cho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss), whose thrilling bank­ing-based mis­ad­ven­tures will have to be left to the imag­i­na­tion.

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The first footage from the sea­son — all three sec­onds of it, in an HBO pro­mo­tional trailer — showed Jon Snow re­unit­ing with half-sis­ter Sansa af­ter re­turn­ing to Win­ter­fell. But that’s all we’ve seen so far.

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The fi­nal run of episodes will be writ­ten and di­rected by Thrones vet­er­ans: showrun­ners David Be­nioff & D.B. Weiss will write four episodes, and di­rect the sea­son fi­nale, while Miguel Sapoc­hnik (who di­rected the ‘Bat­tle Of The Bas­tards’ episode) and David Nut­ter (who di­rected the Red Wed­ding episode) are also be­hind the cam­era.

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A mam­moth nine-month shoot started in Oc­to­ber 2017 and con­cluded in July 2018. Film­ing took place in North­ern Ire­land, Croatia, Spain and Ice­land.

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It is re­port­edly the most ex­pen­sive sea­son of tele­vi­sion ever pro­duced, with each episode bud­geted at $15 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Variety.

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Peter Din­klage has claimed that the sea­son’s big­gest bat­tle, which filmed for a stag­ger­ing 55 con­sec­u­tive nights, will top the iconic Bat­tle Of The Bas­tards. “Oh my God, and then some,” Din­klage said. “You are in for it. Truly.”

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The end of Game Of Thrones doesn’t mean that’ll be the last you see of the Seven King­doms, though. Five spin-offs are al­ready in the works, with the pi­lot for a pre­quel set thou­sands of years in the past, writ­ten by Jane Gold­man, shoot­ing early next year.

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