There will be no new episodes of Game of Thrones this year.
HBO has made an official announcement that the eighth and final season of the award-winning television series will be taking a hiatus. The cable channel, instead, set the premiere of the six-episode finale in 2019.
The news comes after months of speculation that the series will not air this year. Actors such as Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) and crew have previously hinted the longer break between the seventh and eighth seasons.
HBO lists David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, David Nutter, and Miguel Sapochnik as the directors of the anticipated finale season. Meanwhile, Benioff, Weiss, Bryan Cogman, and Dave Hill penned the scripts. George R.R. Martin remains as a producer.
Game of Thrones Season 8 started filming in October, but despite the shorter episode order, people working on the show have suggested that the final season will be bigger and much longer than previous seasons.
"We're filming right up until the summer. When you think about it, up until last season we'd have six months to do 10 episodes, so we're [doing] way more than that for 6 episodes," said sound editor, Paula Fairfield, in a previous interview. "So that obviously will translate into longer episodes."
So far, the 80-minute finale of Season 7 has been the longest episode of Game of Thrones.
Actor Iain Glen, who plays the role of Ser Jorah, also attributed the longer shoot to the fact that the story arcs of each surviving characters are now converging.
"We're all starting to occupy the same territory, we're all starting to be in the same story lines and so they can't [have two filming units] anymore," he told fans at Comic Con Stockholm in October.
Aside from the agonizing wait for the fans, the longer hiatus of Game of Thrones will be beneficial for the show. For one, showrunners Benioff and Weiss will have more time to craft what is expected to be one of the most anticipated finales in television's history. Viewers can expect even grander battle scenes as the Great War comes to a crescendo.
However, do not expect leaks and spoilers for the rest of the year. The series is notoriously strict about giving details of new episodes, but because of the hacking incident that happened in 2017 (that saw episodes leak online way ahead of its premiere on TV), there will probably be tighter security around the production.
HBO President Casey Bloys revealed last year that the network is taking drastic precautions to prevent spoilers from leaking. He hinted that multiple endings will be filmed so viewers would not find out what will happen before the series airs.