Game of Thrones‘ Season Seven will feature seven episodes, a departure from the series’ previous 10-episode format, HBO announced Monday. Production will begin later this summer in Northern Ireland, with additional portions filmed in Spain and Iceland. The season will debut in the summer of 2017, rather than its usual spring launch time.
“Now that winter has arrived on Game of Thrones, executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss felt that the storylines of the next season would be better served by starting production a little later than usual, when the weather is changing,” Casey Bloys, president of HBO programming, said in a statement. “Instead of the show’s traditional spring debut, we’re moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule.”
Game of Thrones earned 23 Primetime Emmy nominations, the most of any nominee for the third straight year. The show’s nominations include Outstanding Drama Series, two for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington) and three for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams).
While the series is earning widespread acclaim, it’s also growing more popular: The Season Six finale drew the largest audience in its history, with 8.9 million viewers, breaking its previous record of 8.1 million set for the Season Five finale.
Benioff and Weiss recently told Deadline that the show’s pace is in line with their long-term game plan. “It’s two more seasons we’re talking about,” Benioff said. “From pretty close to the beginning, we talked about doing this in 70-75 hours, and that’s what we’ll end up with. Call it 73 for now. What Dan says is really true, but it’s not just trying not to outstay your welcome. We’re trying to tell one cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end.”
From Jon Snow’s fate to Arya’s face, find out what we’re curious about going into Season Six.