HBO and series showrunners may not be on the same page about whether or not Game of Thrones will end at season 7.
Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have never made a secret of their vision for Game of Thrones, which they plan to conclude after seven seasons. But equally well-known is the fact that Game of Thrones is HBO’s most-watched series of all time — and it seems like the network may have other ideas.
The disparity between the fiscal and creative opinions on the future of Game of Thrones is what HBO’s Michael Lombardo calls “the hard part” of his job.
“We started this journey with David and Dan. It’s their vision,” Lombardo says. Still, “Would I love the show to go 10 years as both a fan and a network executive? Absolutely.”
But Benioff and Weiss seem confident in their seven-season plan for the epic fantasy series.
“We see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Benioff says. “We still have a long way to go and things to figure out, but we definitely know where we’re heading and the major end-beats.”
The showrunners’ primary concern seems to be running Game of Thrones past where its creative legs can take it — a problem not uncommon among popular television series.
“We want to go out on our absolute highest note,” Weiss says. “We don’t want people to finally see the end and say, ‘Thank god that’s over.’”
Benioff agrees. “We know basically how many hours are left in this story,” he says. “We don’t want to add 10 hours to that. It’s about finding that sweet spot so it works for us and for HBO and, most of all, it works for the audience.”
For Lombardo’s part, HBO’s president of programming says he will respect Benioff and Weiss’s instincts.
“We’ll have an honest conversation that explores all possible avenues,” he promises. “If they weren’t comfortable going beyond seven seasons, I trust them implicitly and trust that’s the right decision — as horrifying as that is to me.
“What I’m not going to do,” Lombardo assures fans, “is have a show continue past where the creators believe where they feel they’ve finished with the story.”
Though the series has not officially been picked up for a seventh season — HBO ponied up for seasons 5 and 6 last year — contract options for the main cast have been extended to cover seven seasons. So let’s get real, that’s definitely happening.
Considerably less certain though, is the oft-repeated rumor that Game of Thrones may conclude with a feature film. Though George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series on which the show is based, has previously expressed enthusiasm for this idea, Lombardo cites a few drawbacks.
“When you start a series with our subscribers, the promise is that for your HBO fee that we’re going to take you to the end of this,” Lombardo says. Though he agrees that the concept of a film conclusion is appealing, “I feel that on some level [a movie would be] changing the rules: Now you have to pay $16 to see how your show ends.”
It seems like only time will tell how long Game of Thrones will run. In the meanwhile, there is just one month to go until the fifth season literally takes over the world, so we’re perfectly happy to live in the moment.
Game of Thrones season 5 will premiere on Sunday, April 12 at 9:00 p.m. on HBO.