Final “Game of Thrones” May Not Hit Until 2019

With the penultimate seventh season of HBO’s fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” kicking off next month, HBO programming president Casey Bloys sat down with EW this week to talk about the franchise’s future.

The big revelation is that the final six-episode eighth season is a while off with Bloys confirming the new episodes may not air until 2019:

“They [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule. We’ll have a better sense of that once they get further into the writing.

That hasn’t stopped him talking up the scale of these new episodes:

“I don’t want to oversell, but I can’t imagine anybody being disappointed in this season. It’s amazing. I hesitate to call them ‘movies,’ that sounds a bit grand. But one of the hallmarks of the show has been how cinematic is it. The show has proven that TV is every bit as impressive and in many cases moreso, than film.

What they’re doing is monumental. When you see these battles in season 7, and what I imagine season 8 will be, it’s a big, big show. We’ve done a lot of great shows, but this one combines the complex characters we love with a huge cinematic scope. I think this is the first show to prove that can be done – and we’re the first people to pay for it.”

Bloys is more hesitant about discussing potential prequel spin-off series and indicates there are no plans to proceed with them for some time:

“I want to temper the expectation on the prequels. We want to focus on season 7 and 8. If any of these [prequel] scripts come to pass, you’re not going to see anything air anytime close to the season 8 finale.

I wanted to make sure fans know this is a really embryonic process. I haven’t even seen outlines. In the press at large, everybody said, ‘there are four spinoffs’ and they assume that means each one is happening and we’re going to have a new Game of Thrones show per quarter.

That’s not what’s going on. The idea is not to do four shows. The bar set by [Benioff and Weiss] is so high that my hope is to get one show that lives up to it. Also, this is a long-term plan.

There’s enough material to … contemplate making different prequels … George has all these histories he’s thought about and that’s one reason why the books are so good… If you only developed one, everything would rest on that one shot.

It’s such a special show. I want to make sure that [any prequel] feels worthy. We have some amazing writers who want to take a shot at this. They’re also looking at different times in the universe and all will have different feels. This increases our odds of finding one that’s unique.

At this point, everything is on the table. The idea is to find a series. It would be nice to find something that has the legs this one did. But if something works better as a limited series, sure.”

“Game of Thrones” returns on July 16th.