With only 13 episodes left until Game of Thrones leaves our screens forever (or at least until the spinoffs arrive), you can’t blame us for wanting to savor every bloody minute in Westeros we have left.
Which is why everyone is currently freaking out over the Telegraph‘s eagle-eyed observation that the Season 7 premiere will be 59 minutes in length, at least according to a listing on HBO’s online schedule.
Because this is 2017 on the internet, the headline is unabashedly hyperbolic — while 59 minutes is on the longer end of the scale for a season opener, it’s not the show’s longest premiere ever. Thrones‘ very first episode is still its lengthiest season premiere — clocking in at 62 minutes, according to HBO’s listings — while the Season 4 premiere, “Two Swords,” is also listed at 59 minutes.
Of course, we don’t know if the cut of episode 701 is still being edited ahead of its July 16 premiere — it’s not unusual for installments to be tweaked even days before they air — but given that this season is only seven episodes instead of the usual 10, it wouldn’t be out of the question for showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss to give fans a little extra bang for their buck. In previous seasons, episode lengths have varied from 50 minutes to almost 70, averaging around 55.
There’s some evidence to support the idea that we might get more supersized episodes in Season 7. As WinterIsComing.net pointed out a few months ago, some cast members have hinted that despite Season 7 being shorter than previous seasons, they still filmed for the same length of time that production usually takes to film 10 episodes, with Maisie Williams noting, “We only have seven episodes this time. But we’re shooting for just as long, so there’s just as much content.”
Does that really mean the producers have 10 episodes’ worth of material to cram into only seven installments? Unlikely — perhaps the production is simply more complicated because of the epic battle scenes…